Gold Set To End Higher For 7th Year Running

December 21, 2007

Gold is on course to close 2007 at least $100 higher, setting the precious metal up for its seventh consecutive year of gains in 2008.

An ounce of gold cost $629.80 at the start of 2007 and was trading close to $800 an ounce by mid-December after touching $841.10 in November, its highest level since 1980.

Gold has been rallying since the second quarter of 2001 and at its November high was more than three times the $254.75/oz it bottomed at in April 2001.

Needless to say, the yellow metal has come a long way since the beginning of the 1970s when gold was trading at around $35/oz.

What gold’s rise since the 1970s proves is that while the yellow metal may not be as cyclical as other commodities, it is vulnerable to occasional violent shakeouts, often preceding a new rally.

Profit taking has seen the price seesawing on either side of the $800/oz mark in the days leading up to the end of 2007, but most analysts don’t believe that the bull run is over and are predicting that the price will deliver more of the same in 2008.

More than any other factor, the U.S. economy is seen as the main driver of gold in the year ahead.

Aside from the greenback’s fall from grace, the subprime crisis and the ongoing risk of a U.S. recession have backed the flight to safe-haven investments like gold, while inflationary pressures and geopolitical instability have further fanned the flames.

And analysts are saying that the factors that have supported gold’s uptrend are likely to remain unchanged in the medium term, despite the short-term gyrations.

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A Solar Grand Plan

December 16, 2007

By 2050 solar power could end U.S. dependence on foreign oil and slash greenhouse gas emissions

By Ken Zweibel, James Mason and Vasilis Fthenakis

Scientific American Magazine

High prices for gasoline and home heating oil are here to stay. The U.S. is at war in the Middle East at least in part to protect its foreign oil interests. And as China, India and other nations rapidly increase their demand for fossil fuels, future fighting over energy looms large. In the meantime, power plants that burn coal, oil and natural gas, as well as vehicles everywhere, continue to pour millions of tons of pollutants and greenhouse gases into the atmosphere annually, threatening the planet.

Well-meaning scientists, engineers, economists and politicians have proposed various steps that could slightly reduce fossil-fuel use and emissions. These steps are not enough. The U.S. needs a bold plan to free itself from fossil fuels. Our analysis convinces us that a massive switch to solar power is the logical answer.

Solar energy’s potential is off the chart. The energy in sunlight striking the earth for 40 minutes is equivalent to global energy consumption for a year. The U.S. is lucky to be endowed with a vast resource; at least 250,000 square miles of land in the Southwest alone are suitable for constructing solar power plants, and that land receives more than 4,500 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) of solar radiation a year. Converting only 2.5 percent of that radiation into electricity would match the nation’s total energy consumption in 2006.

To convert the country to solar power, huge tracts of land would have to be covered with photovoltaic panels and solar heating troughs. A direct-current (DC) transmission backbone would also have to be erected to send that energy efficiently across the nation.

The technology is ready. On the following pages we present a grand plan that could provide 69 percent of the U.S.’s electricity and 35 percent of its total energy (which includes transportation) with solar power by 2050. We project that this energy could be sold to consumers at rates equivalent to today’s rates for conventional power sources, about five cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). If wind, biomass and geothermal sources were also developed, renewable energy could provide 100 percent of the nation’s electricity and 90 percent of its energy by 2100.

The federal government would have to invest more than $400 billion over the next 40 years to complete the 2050 plan. That investment is substantial, but the payoff is greater. Solar plants consume little or no fuel, saving billions of dollars year after year. The infrastructure would displace 300 large coal-fired power plants and 300 more large natural gas plants and all the fuels they consume. The plan would effectively eliminate all imported oil, fundamentally cutting U.S. trade deficits and easing political tension in the Middle East and elsewhere. Because solar technologies are almost pollution-free, the plan would also reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants by 1.7 billion tons a year, and another 1.9 billion tons from gasoline vehicles would be displaced by plug-in hybrids refueled by the solar power grid. In 2050 U.S. carbon dioxide emissions would be 62 percent below 2005 levels, putting a major brake on global warming.

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Wrong Again Ben

December 11, 2007

If the one year treasury has fallen 2%, why has fed funds only dropped 1%? Ben is wrong. Too tight.

Even the 10 year is down 1.4%. He is at least .50 too tight right now.

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