Big Oil Fought Off New Safety Rules Before Rig Explosion Deepwater Horizon, the giant technically-advanced rig which exploded on April 20 and sank two days later, is leaking an estimated 42,000 gallons per day through a pipe about 5,000 feet below the surface. The spill has spread across 1,800 square miles — an area larger than Rhode Island — according to satellite images, oozing its way toward the Louisiana coast and posing a threat to wildlife, including a sperm whale spotted in the oil sheen. The massive $600 million rig, which holds the record for boring the deepest oil and gas well in the world — at 35,050 feet – had passed three recent federal inspections, the most recent on April 1, since it moved to its current location in January. The cause of the explosion has not been determined. Yet relatives of workers who are presumed dead claim that the oil behemoth BP and rig owner TransOcean violated "numerous statutes and regulations" issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Coast Guard, according to a lawsuit filed by Natalie Roshto, whose husband Shane, a deck floor hand, was thrown overboard by the force of the explosion and whose body has not yet been located.
BP welcomes military help for larger Gulf oil leak –– A massive oil spill in the is even worse than believed and as the government grows concerned that the rig’s operator is ill-equipped to contain it, officials are offering a military response to try to avert a massive along the ecologically fragile U.S. coastline. Speaking Thursday on NBC’s "Today" show, an executive for BP PLC, which operated the that exploded and sank last week, said the company would welcome help from the . "We’ll take help from anyone," BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles said. But time may be running out. Not only was a third leak discovered — which government officials said is spewing five times as much oil into the water than originally estimated — but it might be closer to shore than previously known, and could have oil washing up on shore by Friday.
Foreign Oil Dependence: Why the Crux of the Energy Issue Centers on this Fossil Fuel – Picture : It’s 1856 and the Industrial Revolution is just getting underway in the United States.As America ratchets up its manufacturing and innovation and grows into a vibrant industrial hub, the driving force behind this growth is the greatest energy windfall in the history of the world… The discovery and commercialization of oil. Flash forward to 2010: We’re still relying mostly on oil to satisfy our energy demands. But the end of the “Age of Oil” is on the horizon and the world faces major energy problems. Supply. Demand. Cost. The environment. The list goes on… These problems affect the prosperity of countries and people around the world. That’s because when it comes to economic growth and the future of mankind, there is nothing more precious – and more crucial – than cheap energy.
Greece Debt Crisis: How to Rescue Euro-Zone Nation? – TIME… Little, it seems, will convince the markets that Greece is a safe bet. Investors have been jostling the country since the start of the year, raising the cost of Greek debt while forcing the euro down against the dollar. Not even the Greek government’s austerity measures or a long-delayed $60 billion rescue package has been able to quell the market jitters. When credit-rating agency Standard & Poor’s downgraded Greek debt to junk-bond status on Tuesday, the move sent the markets into a new tailspin. And now, as European Union officials scramble to assure investors that Greece is on the right track, the focus has moved to the euro: Can the single currency be saved before rapacious speculators tear the euro zone apart?
Watching the Watchers – Credit-rating agencies exist to evaluate the safety of debt securities. Imagine for a moment that they had done their job when financial go-getters began churning out bonds backed by sketchy loans and the dream of endlessly rising home prices. Properly labeled as junk, those bonds would have found few buyers. Denied access to the vast reservoirs of capital held in mutual, money-market, and pension funds, the go-getters would have ended up as minor players. And millions of Americans might still have the jobs, homes, retirement savings, and economic security they lost. The first imperative of reform, then, is to align the incentives of these badly corrupted entities with their mission.
The Case for Ratings Agency Deregulation (vimeo) The term “deregulation” is normally associated with the right, but there’s a long tradition of progressive deregulation in this country aimed at bolstering competition and forcing firms to be disciplined by each other rather than by captured regulators. Ted Kennedy, for example, played a key role in bringing price competition to air travel and trucking. And via Tim Fernholz, here’s a proposal in that spirit from Lawrence Wright at the Roosevelt Institute to unravel the regulatory cartel that keeps the ratings agencies in business no matter how badly they screw up.
Notes from the Fiscal Sustainability Teach-In – I just got back from the Fiscal Sustainability Teach-In organized by letsgetitdone, selise and others who regularly post and comment here at The Seminal. The event is a bottom-up grassroots response to Pete Peterson and the President’s "catfood commission" – which is already talking about putting things like Medicaid and Social Security on the chopping block in the name of reducing the deficit. If you were able to attend the teach-in, or if you follow the noted economists and presenters who appeared there, you might know that things like full employment are much more important than national deficits, and that the U.S.’s fiscal policy on things like Social Security isn’t nearly as much of a cause for alarm as the right-wing "deficit hawks" might have you believe
Can Europe Save Itself? – Economix Blog – NYTimes – When Jean-Claude Trichet (head of the European Central Bank) and Dominique Strauss-Kahn (head of the International Monetary Fund) rushed to Berlin this week to meet Chancellor Angela Merkel and the German Parliament, the moment was eerily reminiscent of September 2008 — when then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson stormed up to the United States Congress, demanding $700 billion in relief for the largest American banks.Remember the aftermath of that debacle? Despite the Treasury argument that this would be enough, much more money was eventually needed, and Mr. Paulson left office a few months later under a cloud. The problem this time is bigger. It is not only about banks; it is about the essence of the euro zone, and the political survival of all the public figures responsible.
Obama to Nominate Yellen, Raskin, Diamond to Fed Board – WSJ -President Barack Obama plans to nominate two economists and a lawyer to the Federal Reserve Board on Thursday, reshaping the central bank’s top ranks at a critical period for financial regulation and monetary policy. The White House on Thursday will tap Janet Yellen, president of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, to be the board’s vice chairman, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist Peter Diamond and Maryland state banking regulator Sarah Bloom Raskin to sit on the seven-member board, according to people familiar with the mater. The Senate is likely to confirm them.
Most U.S. Factory Jobs Lost in Slump May Stay Empty in Recovery… (Bloomberg) — U.S. manufacturers will fill fewer than 30 percent of 2 million lost factory jobs as the economy recovers over the next six years, according to an estimate from an industry trade group. Most of the hiring will come in 2011 and 2012, David Huether, chief economist for the National Association of Manufacturers, said yesterday after NAM President John Engler spoke on a job-growth panel at the Milken Conference in Los Angeles. “I wish there were a silver bullet where we just walk in and just sprinkle this pixie dust,” Ron Bloom, a conference panelist and senior White House adviser for manufacturing policy, said in an interview. “But this is slow, hard work.”