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One of SunPower's current installations is shown here. SunPower signed a contract to provide California with 250 MW of flat panel solar photovoltaic power by 2012, helping to reestablish the U.S. as the global leader in solar.  (Source: MMA Renewable Ventures/SunPower)
California is thinking green with solar, nuclear, and wind

California is thinking green.  Hot on the heels of San Francisco's announcement of its big green tax cut -- subsidies for solar panel installation that will provide citizens with energy savings -- California has more big solar news.

The state's largest utility Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) has signed deals with OptiSolar and SunPower to provide 800 MW of new solar power to the state in the form of massive solar photovoltaic plants.  The move will reestablish the U.S. as the global leader in solar power by being the world's largest set of grid-tied photovoltaic installations, surpassing solar-hungry Spain and Portugal.

The arrays will provide residents with 1.65 billion kilowatt hours each year and will power up to 250,000 homes.  Jack Keenan, CEO and senior vice president of PG&E states, "This commitment not only moves us forward in meeting our renewable goal, it's also a significant step forward in the renewable energy sector.  Utility-scale deployment of PV (photovoltaic) technology may well become cost competitive with other forms of renewable energy generation, such as solar thermal and wind."

With the upcoming capacity, 24 percent of PG&E's power will come from renewable resources. This exceeds the 20 percent that the state demands of the company by 2010.  Keenan says the new installation will help to ease California's massive power demands during peak afternoon hours.

The estimated completion date for Optisolar's 550 MW is 2013, while SunPower should finish up its 250 MW in 2012.  Both plants will be built in the sunny central San Luis Obispo County, north of Los Angeles.  The new farms are somewhat unique in that typically farms of this size have used solar thermal technologies instead of photovoltaics.  One cost efficient thing about the new plants is they'll be able to use almost entirely preexisting lines.  This will reduce the construction costs and thus reduce the cost per kilowatt hour as well.

OptiSolar's plant, the larger of the pair, will cut as much carbon emissions as removing 90,000 cars from the road.  It will use the company's cutting edge thin-film photovoltaic equipment.  It has already filed for permits and hopes to begin construction by 2010.  Randy Goldstein, CEO of OptiSolar states, "The Topaz solar farm will grow clean electricity on previously disturbed, unused farmland with low-profile panels minimizing visual impact.  It's designed to be compatible with key wildlife species and avoid environmentally sensitive areas."

OptiSolar currently employs 400 people in Hayward, California at a solar panel manufacturing plant.  In order to aid the construction it plans on creating another in Sacramento.  This new plant will create 1,000 "green-collar" jobs.

Meanwhile SunPower brings considerable experience to the table, having installed 350 MW in capacity in 450 sites on three continents.  Among its achievements are the installation of the largest U.S. photovoltaic facility, 14 MW at Nellis National Air Force Base in Arizona, and the installation of the world's first utility-scale photovoltaic plant in Bavaria, Germany.  The company has plans to sell solar panels at Wal-Mart, JC Penney, and Macy's to compete with IKEA's new solar offerings.  Sam's Club is also offering competitive products.

Adam Browning, executive of the Vote Solar Initiative praises the initiatives stating, "What you are seeing here is the foundation of an industry that can deliver electricity cleanly, cheaply, and reliably than the fossil fuel alternatives.  That's really good news because the Department of Energy predicts we will need 386 gigawatts by 2015 just to keep up with load growth...This is a very large, great leap forward in economies of scale. This is the wave of the future."

California also is considering new nuclear expansion with California firm Fresno Nuclear Energy Group LLC.  The company plans to build a new plant in San Joaquin Valley, in addition to California's four operational nuclear plants, which provide the state with a great deal of electricity.  The firm has contracted Constellation Energy in Baltimore to design build and operate the plant. 

The new nuclear plant would provide 1,600 MW of power, and would cost approximately $4B USD.  Californian citizens will vote this fall on whether to allow the construction of the plant.  Costs for nuclear range between $0.05 and $0.11 by current estimates, while costs for solar range between $0.15 to $0.20.  Both can be significantly cheaper than this thanks to federal subsidies.

Officials behind both the solar and nuclear projects warn that if Congress does not renew tax credits for alternative energy, efforts will likely slow and whither.  It currently looks likely that Congress will indeed renew these measures as they enjoy strong national support.



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RE: Clarify, please
By TheDoc9 on 8/15/2008 2:46:25 PM , Rating: 1
Hopefully this won't happen, but the writing is on the wall and there is good evidence about the coming times making the great depression of the 30's look like a market correction.

It really depends on what the central bank(s) want to do.


RE: Clarify, please
By Ringold on 8/15/2008 3:04:10 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
but the writing is on the wall and there is good evidence about the coming times making the great depression of the 30's look like a market correction.


Dare I ask what data exactly indicates this? Perhaps our amazing resilience compared to Europe? Perhaps our recently strengthening dollar? Perhaps our extremely low, given the business cycle, unemployment? :P

People have been fear-mongering about the almighty powers of the central banks, but Bernanke holds rates steady and the dollar strengthens. Bond yields are also trading below current inflation rates. Either millions of wealthy people love losing money, or they're not so worried.

As far as other markets go.. We've caught a cold, and they're all getting pneumonia. It's happened before to no great ill effect here. Except this time, their economies are far stronger.

As long as the government keeps its hands off, everything looks fine. It was the government policies, and tight monetary policy, after all that made a recession in to the Great Depression.


RE: Clarify, please
By Solandri on 8/15/2008 3:51:22 PM , Rating: 5
There are two widely held misconceptions feeding this belief that the U.S. is headed for economic collapse. First is that the housing bubble was a U.S.-only phenomenon. Second is that the U.S. is badly in debt.

Most of the rest of the Western world saw housing price run-ups as big as or greater than what the U.S. saw. The UK, Australia, France, Spain to name some. I've seen similar reports from Eastern Europe as well. (Germany is an exception - they were in a recession when the housing bubble began so their home prices have remained stable.) The U.S. just happens to be the first Western nation that's hada correction (well, I suppose you could say Japan suffered their housing correction in the '90s). The correction is going to hit Europe and Australia in the next few years.

http://investmentpostcards.wordpress.com/2007/10/1...
http://patrick.net/wp/?p=297
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtml?xml=/m...
http://img267.imageshack.us/img267/5443/ixis2uh8.j...
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtml?xml=/m...
http://rspruk.blogspot.com/2008/05/housing-bubble-...

Most of those countries also have as much or more debt than the U.S. does. For some reason people keep looking at debt in terms of raw dollars, not as a ratio of a country's ability to repay it. That's silly, like claiming Bill Gates is headed for financial ruin because he took out a $10 million mortgage. The U.S.'s financial numbers, including debt, are huge because it has the largest population of any Western nation with one of the most robust economies. If you look at debt as a fraction of GDP, the U.S. is actually in the middle among the G8 nations.

http://snowflake5.blogspot.com/2007/04/10-years-of...
http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/eco_pub_deb-econ...

So yes the housing bubble is going to cause economic hardship, but it's going to affect the entire world, not just the U.S. It's just hit the U.S. first because the U.S. was the first to try to do something about it by lowering its interest rates. That caused the USD to drop relative to other currencies, thus feeding the belief that the U.S. was headed for economic destruction. As the U.S. starts to recover, the worldwide housing bubbles will pop and you'll see the USD climb relative to other currencies. In fact you might be seeing this happen already - the Euro is down from 1.58 USD to 1.47 USD in the last month.


RE: Clarify, please
By HsiKai on 8/15/2008 5:13:04 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
First is that the housing bubble was a U.S.-only phenomenon.


I doubt anyone who has been paying attention seriously believes that the housing bubble was a "U.S.-only phenomenon," however the main issue is that while the housing bubble extended to parts of Europe, it was the "unprecedented" appreciation of the housing market due to significantly overshooting the long-term average values of those homes. That, compounded by large investment houses lending illegally to those whom could not afford the house, created an artificial "demand" as "higher house prices have been associated with strong consumption." (Ref: http://www.nysun.com/opinion/is-europes-housing-ma... ) For example, "builders responded to this pickup in overall housing demand by significantly increasing house construction." (http://calculatedrisk.blogspot.com/2007/01/berson-...

This artificial demand is what's going to hurt the "undershooting" that will come from the over-appreciation of the housing market, but will not only be in the U.S. and parts of Europe, but will directly affect those lending houses and thus a large part of Western society.

Also, I would think that large lending groups lobbying for deregulation might have something to do with the lack of honorable intentions in trying to lend to those who could not afford it.

See: http://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/stories/2008/05...
See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phil_Gramm

quote:
Second is that the U.S. is badly in debt.


Taken as a proportion of debt, the U.S. debt has increased disproportionately over the past 20 years and even more so in the last eight years. That is cause for concern. Public debt increased by more than 300% from 1980-1990; increased by 57% from 1990-2000; and then has increased by 79% in 5 years. From 2005-7 it increased by 80%.

As a percentage related to the GDP, the national debt was decreasing since 1960 until 1980-1990 where it spiked from 26% to 42%. After falling slightly from 1990-2000 it has been steadily increasing. The CIA actually has the public debt as a percent of the GDP at 60.8%. That is fairly significant. (Ref: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world... )

So yes, we are badly in debt to ourselves. We also happen to be in debt to other countries. In June of 2007 the external debt was $12.25 trillion and was only $10 trillion a year before.

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_public_...


RE: Clarify, please
By Solandri on 8/15/2008 6:19:57 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Taken as a proportion of debt, the U.S. debt has increased disproportionately over the past 20 years and even more so in the last eight years. That is cause for concern. Public debt increased by more than 300% from 1980-1990; increased by 57% from 1990-2000; and then has increased by 79% in 5 years. From 2005-7 it increased by 80%.

Public debt always changes by huge percentages because of inflation. Inflation exaggerates the fiscal effect of the current year relative to past years (which is what debt is - accumulated deficits). Here's historical data on the U.S. debt situation as a percentage of GDP. Comparing to GDP normalizes for population and economic growth, as well as inflation:

http://www.marktaw.com/culture_and_media/TheNation...

Here's a plot of Federal expenditures vs. revenues as a percent of GDP. You'll notice it's pretty flat. The recent rise in deficits are due to the downturn in the economy following the tech bubble bursting and 9/11.

http://www.marktaw.com/culture_and_media/TheNation...

quote:
As a percentage related to the GDP, the national debt was decreasing since 1960 until 1980-1990 where it spiked from 26% to 42%. After falling slightly from 1990-2000 it has been steadily increasing. The CIA actually has the public debt as a percent of the GDP at 60.8%. That is fairly significant.

I'm not denying it's significant. I'm saying the U.S. is not significantly more in debt than other Western nations. The GP that started this thread was a prediction that the U.S. would collapse economically.

quote:
So yes, we are badly in debt to ourselves. We also happen to be in debt to other countries. In June of 2007 the external debt was $12.25 trillion and was only $10 trillion a year before.

If you're worried about external debt, the U.S. is (again, relative to GDP) in much better shape there than almost all of Europe.

http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/eco_deb_ext_perg...

I think it's a silly measure though, since any country which does much foreign trade will by definition have more foreign debt. The U.S. conducts most of its economic activity domestically, which is why its external debt relative to GDP is much lower than European countries'.


RE: Clarify, please
By HsiKai on 8/15/2008 8:05:39 PM , Rating: 2
Ahahaha, you're a joke. Please get off the interwebs.

Your data is not only from 2004 , well before the housing bubble bust in question, but even your "projected" debt as a percentage of GDP is increasing , from 60% to 62%; to 64%; etc., every year. That's an inherently bad sign when taking into account it was projected in 2004. Unless you're living backwards in time like an old Twilight Zone episode, your example projections only further my point. However, if you found a way to time-travel, please let the rest of us know.

quote:
Here's a plot of Federal expenditures vs. revenues as a percent of GDP. You'll notice it's pretty flat.


No, your numbers end at 2004. Here are the rest of the numbers, although not in graphical form: http://www.bea.gov/national/nipaweb/TablePrint.asp...

Here is the real link that indicates how old your numbers are: http://www.marktaw.com/culture_and_media/TheNation... You do yourself a disservice trying to hide the date which you quote your information from, which is why I assume you only linked the pictures (however there's a clue in the title, gasp!)

Here are the numbers that include up to FY09, although I implore you to relate them to FY07 and FY08 as the numbers are severely different.
FY09: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/usbudget/fy09/pdf/hist.pd...
FY08: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/usbudget/fy08/pdf/hist.pd...
FY07: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/usbudget/fy07/pdf/hist.pd...

Also, please take into account the fact that the entirety of expenditures for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, totaling $752 billions from 2002-7 are not calculated into the budget as they are not funded through regular appropriations bills. (See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Us_budget ) In effect, all the numbers are higher, which is to say more positive, than actuality and do not properly reflect our nation's expenditures. Again, I apologize that those numbers aren't in graphical form, but I assume you can add and subtract, unlike some people on this board.

Oh, here is an actual chart: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/c/c... from here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Us_federal_budget however it still doesn't show a comparison of revenue as a percent of GDP, however you can use your imagination.

quote:
I'm saying the U.S. is not significantly more in debt than other Western nations.


The U.S. and U.K. are the top two in "totals," third is Germany at less than half of the UK's debt. Also, all the numbers point towards nations that aren't suffering from ridiculous amounts of housing inflation (only about half of Europe), are going to weather this much, much better than those with significant inflation/housing appreciation.

I'll post more later regarding your "compare us to the rest of the world."


RE: Clarify, please
By Ringold on 8/16/2008 12:23:31 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
The U.S. and U.K. are the top two in "totals," third is Germany at less than half of the UK's debt.


You're going off topic. Sol is absolutely correct that fixation on absolute totals rather than relative to GDP is amateurish at best, propaganda at worst, and regardless is just useless. His point stands as valid that the US has far lower debt loads than other countries..

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_public_debt

Using the correct measure as above, we rank not first but 26th. Do note most of Western Europe ranking above us. As for ongoing deficits, for 2008, according to current data off the back of the latest issue of The Economist, the US deficit is lower than Japan, Britain, France, Greece, and Italy, as well as India.

It's also lower than the WW2 peak of just over 100%, and remained higher during a period of strong economic expansion. Much like current account deficits, it is no easy task to try to correlate moderate deficits or surpluses with wider economic growth or malaise.

Further, if there is an oversupply of US treasury bonds, then one would have a hard time knowing based on treasury yields. Our 10 year rates are lower than the Euro-zone average. The Fed influences short rates, but has no control over the long rates.

Also, while the projected deficit for next year sounds to be downright scary, Europe's will become far worse due to their extremely generous unemployment compensation schemes. At already high levels of debt, they are in much more serious need of reform, at least after their recession passes.

quote:
are going to weather this much, much better than those with significant inflation/housing appreciation.


Based on what? My contention here is over "much, much better." All of Western Europe's leading indicators and sentiment indicators appear to be in free-fall, not just those areas that had a housing boom. This theory of yours also falls flat when comparing the US to Europe; we've held up remarkably well despite being ground-zero for failing loans. We're shedding remarkably few jobs, and our junk-bond default rates at 2.37% aren't at recessionary levels.

This has a good summary of some of the Euro-zone worries, though they have expanded even since then: http://clausvistesen.squarespace.com/alphasources-...

I guess by "much, much better" you mean "we will putter along while they fly off a cliff in a car engulfed in flame?"

There appears to be far more evidence that this is going to play out just like it has since the end of WW2. America has caught a cold. Much of the world will now proceed to get pneumonia. My personal theory on the recent dollar rally? Everybody else in the world, at least those with assets under management, have the same idea as I do, and figure the US will be a relative safe harbor.


RE: Clarify, please
By HsiKai on 8/16/08, Rating: 0
RE: Clarify, please
By Ringold on 8/16/2008 11:04:49 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
On top of that Greece, Sweden, and Hungary aren't a part of Western Europe, so no, most of Western Europe, and as I've been saying, the majority of Europe, is below the United States based on public debt


Italy, Belgium, France, and Germany all rank higher. Those three combined are practically Western Europe, as far as making up the bulk of that economic area.

quote:
In addition, it also does not take into account a prior point I was making, that Germany is supposedly going to weather the housing bubble burst much better than other major western economies.


Except for.. Their shrinking durable goods output, stubbornly high (almost 8%) unemployment, and a Bravarian state-owned bank losing billions. They may do better, but I think they're still going to feel the pain. Pain as well as everything else has been globalized.

quote:
all while we are not in a huge industrial boom and not having unprecedented economic growth


I looked at your chart, and I see a GDP line that is continuing a trend, despite intermediate term oscillations one way or the other, higher from 1890 till today. Not sure how this ties in to debt.. except that at some points we had more than today, and we managed to stick to the trend?

quote:
On page 2 of the above link they also indicate the growth rate output per capita, the US comes in both last and below average. It's the inability for the current economy to maintain a status quo that will continue to hurt it.


Notice our real GDP per capita is also significantly higher. What you did here was reveal what is commonly known; advanced economies, relative to others, have a hard time continuing to race ahead. For the US to sustain much higher rates of growth than we have in recent decades would be inflationary (aka, demand-pull inflation).

quote:
Purely as a question out of interest, as I'm not an economist, what happens when China let's their currency increase at a reasonable rate (similar to their economic growth)?


It won't happen, not yet, as they might as well commence nuclear weapon testing in their industrial areas; it would be a lot of mutual pain. Hard to even say who would be on the better end of it. In the long run, we'd just switch to cheaper labor in Vietnam or in Africa. Rapid changes in economics, be it price levels (inflation) or exchange rates, always hurt. Slow and steady ones can be anticipated and accounted for. The Chinese are smart folk. :)


RE: Clarify, please
By HsiKai on 8/17/2008 1:59:39 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Italy, Belgium, France, and Germany all rank higher. Those three combined are practically Western Europe, as far as making up the bulk of that economic area.


I'm not going to get into a pitched battle over statistics, but those four countries (out of _ in the EU) account for only 29% of the population. The UK alone rivals all of those, with the exception of Germany, while having a public debt of more than all of those countries combined, in addition to having only a public debt of 43% of GDP. However econstats actually suggests it's ~38% (see: http://www.econstats.com/weo/V029.htm ). And it is the UK that is most similar in the housing market troubles, which I am not arguing wont precipitate into something worse, nor spread across Europe, but will have more U.S.-like effects, and thus have a causal relationship.

The UK almost seems like an outlier in that it has the second largest economy in Europe, and likely the largest by population, but maintains a lower public debt as a percent of GDP even though the GDP (both public and private) is second highest in the world. Though as you said their significant unemployment rate may exacerbate the problem. (debt as a % of GDP: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_... )

quote:
They may do better, but I think they're still going to feel the pain.


Yes. I'm not arguing that all countries in Europe will fair better than the US, simply because I doubt either of us know enough about each European country's specific economy and current problems, but that most of them could weather this much better (see one of my first links to the NY Sun).

quote:
I looked at your chart, and I see a GDP line that is continuing a trend, despite intermediate term oscillations one way or the other, higher from 1890 till today. Not sure how this ties in to debt.. except that at some points we had more than today, and we managed to stick to the trend?


Perhaps I should have pointed it out more clearly, but with respect to the chart ranging from 1934-2006, the point I was making was that there are two obvious and significant increases in expenditures (read: debt) at two specific points. One correlates to our entering the war (and continues until the end of it) while the other major increase correlates to 9/11 and the subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. At both points we increased our spending (and debt) by about a trillion dollars, but during the 1940s that ended after the war. During the war we had a period of serious economic growth, but during our wars now, we don't. We have below-average growth, while there is no end of the war clearly in sight (though 16 months seems to be a popular number that doesn't indicate when spending will end). So, my point is this: Our economy and circumstance now cannot be compared to those circumstances during WWII at the very least because our war funding is not included in the public debt. Our expenditures since ~9/11 have been significantly increased and do not follow a trend.

There was, as I remember, a problem with housing after WWII when soldiers were returning, but I wasn't under the impression that it was due to illegal loans and superfluous Tupperware parties.

quote:
... advanced economies, relative to others, have a hard time continuing to race ahead.


Exactly my point, so why are we spending more than during WWII? Why is our debt, as I first said to Sol, disproportionately higher than ever before? Twenty-percent increases annually are likely not a good sign especially when you take into account the weak dollar; off-budget debts accrued by the war; and weaker growth.


RE: Clarify, please
By Solandri on 8/17/2008 3:01:06 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Perhaps I should have pointed it out more clearly, but with respect to the chart ranging from 1934-2006, the point I was making was that there are two obvious and significant increases in expenditures (read: debt) at two specific points. One correlates to our entering the war (and continues until the end of it) while the other major increase correlates to 9/11 and the subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. At both points we increased our spending (and debt) by about a trillion dollars, but during the 1940s that ended after the war.

Spending is only half the story. A deficit is spending minus revenue (and debt is accumulated deficits). If you look at the plot of expenditures vs. revenue I've given, you'll see that the increase in debt post-9/11 is mostly due to the recession that followed and possibly Bush's tax cuts, not due to a rise in spending.

(If you look into it further, you'll find that the increase in services - i.e. Social Security and Medicare - far exceeded war expenditures, it was just masked since the debt for those was internalized by the government borrowing from the Social Security fund.)

quote:
Exactly my point, so why are we spending more than during WWII? Why is our debt, as I first said to Sol, disproportionately higher than ever before? Twenty-percent increases annually are likely not a good sign especially when you take into account the weak dollar; off-budget debts accrued by the war; and weaker growth.

Sigh. We are not spending more than we did during WWII. We have 2.5x as more people and our economy is nearly 6x larger than it was during WWII.

Say you made $20,000/yr after taxes while in college and paid $1000/mo in rent. That rent represented 60% of your net income.

But now you're paying $3000/mo in rent! That's crazy! How will you survive? But wait, you forgot that you're now earning $120,000/yr. So that rent represents only 30% of your net income. Never mind, false alarm.

(Those numbers are proportional to the inflation-adjusted GDP and Fed expenditure figures from WWII to now.)


RE: Clarify, please
By HsiKai on 8/17/2008 3:41:56 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
We are not spending more than we did during WWII. We have 2.5x as more people and our economy is nearly 6x larger than it was during WWII.


Those expenditures were adjusted to 2007 dollars, so just for inflation. I understand that we "have more people" now. The increased spending on medicare and SS is no doubt related to that increase (and as noted virtually every day on the news: baby boomers). That does not justify the massive increase, nor does it take into account the $752 billion from the Iraq/Afghan wars which are as of yet not officially on the books. Compare the increase in expenditures to normal growth of expenditures. And, again, compare the increase in accumulated debt to the normal amount our debt increases (especially during Republican administrations).

From wiki: "The CBO has indicated that: 'Future growth in spending per beneficiary for Medicare and Medicaid—the federal government’s major health care programs—will be the most important determinant of long-term trends in federal spending.'" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Us_federal_budget )

So as you say, increased spending with respect to those is due to the number of people we have that rely on it. Though I think an increased number of people relying on social security (beyond the number of people who are retired, so to oversimplify: totalSS - retiredSS = unemployedSS + misc.) is detrimental to the economy and shows exactly what position the economy is in.

quote:
Say you made $20,000/yr after taxes while in college and paid $1000/mo in rent. That rent represented 60% of your net income.

But now you're paying $3000/mo in rent! That's crazy! How will you survive? But wait, you forgot that you're now earning $120,000/yr. So that rent represents only 30% of your net income. Never mind, false alarm.


That's fine over the course of 60 years, adjusted for inflation, et cetera, but when your rent increases by 300%, but growth (and specifically your pay) only increases, by 50%, there's a problem.

I don't like your analogy because a lot of it is based on an idea that an individual has a better job (because you have skills) when they get out of college versus your analogy being based on a specific time frame. But taken over a 4-year time frame here are some sample numbers to play with:

In year One your salary is $50k and increases by 5% each year to keep up with rising costs of living. However, inflation is 10% each year, so the $50k you make year Two is really worth $52.500K (in year One dollars). But, you have to take into account the 10% inflation, so you really only have $47,250 compared to the first year. All of a sudden that extra $2.5K you were bringing in doesn't look like much, does it? By year Four you're making $52.093K (in year One dollars), but in actuality it looks more like $57.880K except you're cost of living has risen by 13.3% since year One, while your salary only has increased 5.8% in the same period.

(Check my numbers on those if you like, compounding annually without scratch paper and in calc is not a strong suit of mine.)

All of that, however, is proportional. I shouldn't have to spell out what a 20% inflation rate (or any other disproportionate amount) would look like, especially compared to a standard rate of growth.


RE: Clarify, please
By HsiKai on 8/17/2008 3:05:36 PM , Rating: 2
And just for the sake of comparison, the combined GDPs derived from the purchasing power parity of Italy, France, Belgium, and Germany are $7,019,014 out of the total EU's $14,712,369, in millions as of 2007. So I wouldn't say that "most" of the purchasing power of Europe lies in those four countries especially when, as you go to great lengths to point out, most of them have lesser debt as a percent of GDP.

Also, as a correction, the first line should read "...four countries out of 47 European and 27 in the EU..."


RE: Clarify, please
By Solandri on 8/17/2008 2:39:32 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Only eight European countries total are above the United States in the list of public debt as a percent of GDP. On top of that Greece, Sweden, and Hungary aren't a part of Western Europe, so no, most of Western Europe, and as I've been saying, the majority of Europe, is below the United States based on public debt

I don't want to nitpick this since I never expected something so simple to become a point of contention. Again, you're using a number (# of countries) that is meaningless for the purposes of comparing economic data. Whether you look at the U.S. as one nation-state or 50 small states doesn't change the underlying economic data in any way. The same is true for Europe - the number of countries is meaningless. Let's look at it by GDP:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_...

Germany, Italy, and France alone comprise almost half the EU's GDP. Add in Norway and Belgium and you're easily over 50% of the EU, never mind Hungary, Greece, and Portugul. The majority of the EU nations based on GDP and I suspect also based on population has more public debt than the U.S.

Globally, of the G8 nations, Japan and Italy have substantially more public debt than the U.S. Canada has more slightly more. Germany, France, are about the same as the U.S. Only the U.K. and Russia have less than the U.S. Combined, these countries represent nearly 60% of the world's GDP.

quote:
In addition, it also does not take into account a prior point I was making, that Germany is supposedly going to weather the housing bubble burst much better than other major western economies. That leaves approximately four Western European countries in the position you and Sol are so persistent about.

Please re-read my first post. I quite clearly stated that Germany had avoided the housing bubble. I should reiterate that I'm not saying that things won't get bad in the U.S., or even that things will be worse in Europe than in the U.S. All I'm saying is that overall, Western nations are just as badly screwed as the U.S. is.

The Federal spending graph you linked to again does not account for increases in GDP. It's like getting all worried that my family of 4 spends more money per year than I did when I was a bachelor. Who the heck cares how much I spent as a bachelor? I have a better paying job now and my wife works too, so I'm allowed to spend more. You must account for growth in population and earnings to correctly compare to historical data. As I pointed out already, when you do that, Federal spending is flat . (And the chart clearly says 2008 on it even though you claimed it only went to 2004.)
http://www.marktaw.com/culture_and_media/TheNation...

quote:
Purely as a question out of interest, as I'm not an economist, what happens when China let's their currency increase at a reasonable rate (similar to their economic growth)?

That's actually what the U.S. has been trying to get China to do for the last 4 years, and is partially responsible for the housing bubble here. 4 years ago the Chinese Yuan was fixed to the US Dollar. Normally when a country develops a trade imbalance with another country, the currencies will change in value to mitigate the imbalance. We buy lots of Chinese goods, the Chinese economy gets stronger, the Yuan goes up, Chinese goods become more expensive, and we buy fewer Chinese goods.

But because the Yuan was fixed to the USD, this didn't happen. The prices stayed the same, and we kept buying all those Chinese goods. So the Fed dropped U.S. interest rates to devalue the USD to try to shake off the Chinese Yuan (among other reasons). If the USD is worth less, the Yuan also becomes worth less, making it more difficult for them to purchase things from other countries. Of course we all know what the low interest rates did to housing.

The Chinese in response readjusted the value of the Yuan higher a couple times (but still fixed to the dollar). Then they eventually decoupled it so it's a (partially) freely traded currency. So as China's economy and their currency grows in strength, their goods will become (relatively) more expensive, and we will buy less from them, and will instead buy from other cheaper nations like Indonesia.

If you extend this to all countries, the natural trend is towards an equalization of wages and productivity around the world (to the extent that each country's political system and regulation environment allows unfettered economic growth). That's what Capitalism does - it seeks out and eliminates inefficiencies. It sees low wages as an inefficiency (an opportunity), and sends capital there to exploit the advantage. As more capital takes advantage of that opportunity, the wages rise and it becomes less advantageous. Eventually the wages equalize with Western standards (as has happened with Japan and Korea), and the country takes their place in the modern developed world.

That's what Globalization is about. You'll notice that in most cases, the low wages being paid to "exploit" the workers in developing countries are actually welcomed because they're substantially higher than the prevailing wage in the region. That's tbe economic inefficiency that I mentioned above - that someone else can do something in a way which costs less for you, but pays more for them. The real risk of Globalization isn't low wages to exploit workers, it's political manipulation to prevent the benefit of those (relatively) higher wages from spreading throughout the population.


RE: Clarify, please
By HsiKai on 8/18/2008 1:55:41 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Again, you're using a number (# of countries) that is meaningless for the purposes of comparing economic data. Whether you look at the U.S. as one nation-state or 50 small states doesn't change the underlying economic data in any way.


My point is that Europe is composed of 47 different economies, although somewhat related. The EU is even more related with a similar currency and trade agreements. However, the U.S. != Europe and so I think it is a poor comparison. Our 50 states combine our economic input and outputs while the countries of EU or Europe can decide on their own how much they will participate in a regional versus global economy.

quote:
Globally, of the G8 nations, Japan and Italy have substantially more public debt than the U.S. Canada has more slightly more. Germany, France, are about the same as the U.S. Only the U.K. and Russia have less than the U.S. Combined, these countries represent nearly 60% of the world's GDP.


That's great, and what conclusions do you draw from them simply having "more" public debt? Nothing. Now, if that public debt had increased substantially with, as you say, no account of increased expenditures, then one might assume that the profit margin decreased dramatically. That is, if you're spending the same amount as last year, but your profit is lower - or you're spending more on credit - then whatever relevant costs must have increased.

quote:
Please re-read my first post. I quite clearly stated that Germany had avoided the housing bubble. I should reiterate that I'm not saying that things won't get bad in the U.S., or even that things will be worse in Europe than in the U.S. All I'm saying is that overall, Western nations are just as badly screwed as the U.S. is.


I'm happy we can both agree on that, now if only we could convince Rin of that. I think, however, you might have thought that the above quote was in direct response to you, but it wasn't. I understand that it is difficult, once a certain number of replies have been made, to determine who should have been the recipient, but it was pretty clear I was quoting and replying to Rin.

quote:
It's like getting all worried that my family of 4 spends more money per year than I did when I was a bachelor.


No, that's another external comparison. It would be like saying that a family of four used to spend $5,000 a year in the 1950s but now spends $50,000 fifty years later, given a similar situation. That only accounts for inflation. However, a year after that, if that family is now spending $65,000, there is an obvious disproportionate increase in ... something. That's reflected directly in terms of spending, but you have to look at income and relate it to the federal expenditures, appropriations, as well as how it increases the debt.

But let's try to agree on a basis for analogy. Using your family of four, let's say the average cost of living is $20K per person, regardless of age. Now, one person, living on their own, should have a similar cost of living, so only $20K for himself. However, ten years later, that family of four has four more kids! Wow, a family of eight. One would expect that with all dollar amounts adjusted for inflation that it would still only cost $20K per person. Their expenditures have not changed, so it follows that their total cost would increase by 4x$20K for the additional kids. Except that tens years later for some reason the cost of living has increased to $25K, still adjusted for inflation. Now that family of eight is spending $5Kx8people = $40K more than what historical numbers show. That's with inflation taken into account!

quote:
And the chart clearly says 2008 on it even though you claimed it only went to 2004.

The site that you ultimately link from quite clearly indicates that anything after 2004, specifically from 2004-9, is a projection of data. I already linked you to the correct numbers for that, which Rin jump on about being misleading while it was you who had the wrong dates.

From marktaw.com:
quote:
Any numbers beyond 2003 are projections by the US Government.
Link: http://www.marktaw.com/culture_and_media/TheNation...

It also specifically states on several of the graphs that the data from 2004-9 is projected. In addition, the bottom of the page indicates:
quote:
Page Created on Nov 04, 2004 last updated Jul 11, 2006


These are the percent changes from the previous period in real GDP: http://www.bea.gov/national/nipaweb/TablePrint.asp... That's what you meant to link to; it also breaks down those expenditures.


RE: Clarify, please
By HsiKai on 8/15/2008 11:33:08 PM , Rating: 2
Okay, I gave you the numbers for expenditures before, here is the GDP growth: http://www.econstats.com/gdp/gdp__q10.htm

You'll notice our national debt is outpacing the growth of the GDP.

You'll notice that our inflation is also significantly greater than the growth of the GDP.

A GDP:GDP comparison can be a good comparison of nations as it takes into account, especially in the case of housing markets, public consumption.

Also, I believe that "any country which does much foreign trade" would balance their imports and exports to not end up in the red. Impossible in practice, but there is a nation with 1.33 billion people that provides a decent example of managing their imports while having incredible export trade.


RE: Clarify, please
By Ringold on 8/16/2008 12:58:58 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
You'll notice that our inflation is also significantly greater than the growth of the GDP.


A few explinations for the above mistatement.

1) You aimed to mislead by linking nominal instead of real GDP figures. (Like debt levels, nominal is of little value)
2) It was an honest mistake and didn't realize you were looking off the wrong figures.
3) You want to open a huge technical debate about GDP deflators.
4) Noob.

http://www.econstats.com/gdp/gdp__q2.htm
Or direct from the horses mouth:
http://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/national/gdp/gdpne...

That would've been the proper link. GDP deflators account for inflation in different ways, meaning nominal isn't compared to straight headline inflation numbers. Real GDP is positive, except for Q4 07.

quote:
but there is a nation with 1.33 billion people that provides a decent example of managing their imports while having incredible export trade.


And yet Europe also manages current account surpluses, but enjoys none of the fantastic growth. This provides analysis of US data: http://www.freetrade.org/node/598

Studies that have examined trade globally and historically (including data gleaned, as much as it could be, from Roman times) paint a similar picture; a weak correlation between deficits and strong economic growth. At best, for large economies (small ones are a different ball game), the picture is sufficiently blurred that its of little value to point to it one way or the other. Just like budget deficits, it's often only talked about in the media with absolute numbers and used to scare people, stir controversy among the uninitiated, and drive up ratings.


RE: Clarify, please
By HsiKai on 8/16/2008 3:41:12 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
A few expl a nations for the above mis s tatement.


Perhaps you missed the part where Sol referenced Federal Expenditures and Revenue as a percentage of GDP. The only link there can be compared to the link with the revenues and expenditures as I could not, at the time, find a link charting or comparing both, thus if you combine the data of the two you'll have exactly what he asked for. What you were specifically referring to was simply an aside, which I point out further in my above, most recent, comment.

quote:
... nominal instead of real GDP figures.


Yeah, I didn't know that nominal GDP wasn't adjusted for inflation and whatever else, but the "real" GDP/GDP (PPP) values are even lower. Again, I was using that chart to compare to the one against revenues and expenditures as that was what Sol had asked about.

I would definitely welcome any sort of discussion about GDP, trade deficits, or whatever. It would certainly set a good precedent compared to a lot of the "LOL the Volt will be another Prius" and other random opinions around here.


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