10 Tuesday AM Reads

My morning train reads:

• Warren Buffett: Know when to hold ’em (FT)
• What Negative Bond Yields Mean for Investors (MoneyBeatsee also How negative can interest rates go? (Gavyn Davies)
• Will the Top-Callers Get Clowned Again? (TRB)
• Exxon Could Be the Big Winner of the Oil Crash (Bloomberg)
• America’s Infrastructure Is Slowly Falling Apart (Vice)

Continues here


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  1. NoKidding commented on Feb 3

    Re: America’s Infrastructure Is Slowly Falling Apart

    I challenge any and all humans to find me any written evaluation by a government agency or USCE report in all of US history that says the then-present US infrastructure spending is adequate. Google could not take me there.

    Nor could ten minutes of searching get me to a USCE infastructure report card before 2000. If it existed, I bet it would say spending was too low and project horror for US roads and bridges by the year 2010.

    • ch commented on Feb 3

      Well, neglecting infrastructure in favor of stadiums did work out well for the Romans

    • ilsm commented on Feb 3

      I get confused;; are you using a red herring or a strawman here?

      No kidding!

    • constantnormal commented on Feb 3

      Is there a possibility that the whole of American infrastructure has NEVER been adequate?

      In the years between 1776 and the early 1900s, the nation was expanding so rapidly it seems likely that substandard infrastructure was the norm — for much of the nation (most of it on a geographic basis) outdoor plumbing was the norm up until sometime in the early 1900s, and we still, in 2015, have plenty of small towns that are NOT “out in the boonies” that have no modern sewage system, and have problems with decrepit septic systems dumping raw sewage into streams and rivers.

      We have had a grossly inferior electric power distribution system since at least the end of WW2 (not having had to rebuild what was blown up in the war), and it sure seems to me (in my localized perspective) that we have an inordinate amount of power outages, with brief outages of 30 minutes or less being commonplace, and here in the highest income zip code in Indiana, I experienced TWO (unrelated) outages last year of greater than 11 hours each. The Japanese, for all their economic problems, pride themselves on a power distribution system that corrects breaks in their grid in milliseconds, automatically rerouting as necessary. I recall reading of a town in Texas that had such miserable electric power delivery from the grid that they build their own town-sized UPS, utilizing a molten sulfur battery capable of suppprting them across their numerous grid outages. And a different Texas town was given notice by a semiconductor ingot foundry that if they could not achieve the power stability necessary to keep their furnaces at the tight temperature tolerances required to product their product, they would leave the state. (it takes days to get the temperature stable enough to grow a semiconductor ingot from a crystaline seed)

      As you note, the data has not been maintained (another infrastructure failure?) to be able to say when, if ever, we have had a general infrastructure fitting our perceived standing as a top western society … but I think we ought to give serious consideration to the possibility that we have always lingered around the “maybe it’s good enuf” margins of what it is possible to achieve on a cost-effective basis.

      Maybe, just maybe, we could make things better than they are, and maybe that might put us ahead financially in the long run. Too many maybes, but when I am sitting in a house without electricty, or watching some expensive failure of infrastructure on the evening news, I gotta wonder if we might be better off recycling some of the money we throw away in Iraq and Afghanistan locally, in repairing/replacing roads, bridges, power transmission, water & sewage treatment, and our third-world internet.

    • willid3 commented on Feb 3

      not sure, but what point are you trying to make? that governments always think the infrastructure is failing? or that they say even if its not? or that they say it, but it is, but we want to ignore it? governments tend to want to make new infrastructure, not fix the current. cause its very hard for politicians to get much credit for fixing what they ignored isnt it?

    • rd commented on Feb 3

      Lobbying for infrastructure is new to civil engineers. Historically, the demand for the projects came from the public and politicians.

      The dams of the 20s-60s were built to provide power and expand the west. Herbert Hoover started building Boulder Dam (now Hoover Dam) at the beginning of the Great Depression.

      The Mississippi systems was built by the USACE through the 30s-70s in response to devastating floods and an increasing reliance in large shipping in the Midwest.

      The Interstate system built in the 60s and 70s came from the observations of Hitler’s Autobahns made by the military in Germany at the end of WW II.

      Much of the modern sewage systems came in response to the Clean Water Act of 1972 (signed by that socialist liberal Nixon). Similarly, this led to an upgrade to drinking water supplies.

      So the bills are coming due now for lack of maintenance as well as end-of-design-life structures and systems. Politicians did not fund the full life-cycle costs. They like new facilities but don’t like paying for unsexy maintenance costs.

      The big decision the US needs to make is how much gets funded at the federal level and how much at the state and local level. There isn’t a good social contract in place for that.

    • willid3 commented on Feb 3

      also noted by Eisenhower was that it took many weeks to move troops just from one part of the country to the other. and that trying that from one coast to the other, might take months

    • rd commented on Feb 3

      Eisenhower’s origins of the interstate highway system – some good history here:


      Also, the Erie Canal opened up the Midwest to development – it was replaced by the NYS Barge Canal a century later and then the St. Lawrence Seaway and Welland Canal a half-century after that opened up the Midwest to ocean-going ships:

      The railroads were built in the mid-1800s that handled much of the Erie Canal traffic but were then supplanted in turn by the combination of airplanes (airports) and interstate highways.

      The development of North America has been done with a fairly regular replacement cycle of 50 years or so of major infrastructure elements. Its time for another cycle.

    • rd commented on Feb 3

      BTW – the construction of the Erie Canal coincided with the devastating impacts of the “Year without Summer” due to the Tambora volcanic eruption in 1816 and continued global cooling for a while after that. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Year_Without_a_Summer

      This precipitated the westward of migration of farmers from marginal farmland in New England into western New York and then to Ohio and beyond. The Erie Canal allowed them to get crops back by barge to the big eastern markets from the fertile farmlands in the Midwest. Prior to the Erie Canal, that was not remotely feasible. That westward migration is why you can find stone walls in New England forests (Vermont, Massachusetts, NY Adirondacks etc.) as those forests have regrown on old farmland.

  2. ilsm commented on Feb 3

    Anti Vaxxers do not care their kids’ measles could cause birth defects in the child of a pregnant woman exposed to their exercising their rights. Totally self centered outcome oriented. Too bad they don’t care about the world their unvaxxed kids will iive in.

    When US’ infrastructure crumbles to the point “our society” is lost, does US nuke’em so theirs don’t survive US’?

    • VennData commented on Feb 3

      Some stuffed shirt “money manager” on Bloomberg TV just blamed vaccinations on Washington.


      Republicans are simply clueless, so caught up in their Fox News spin they can’t grasp simply truths.

      Blame it on the REPUBLICANS in Washington. Say it Money manger puke! Say it…


  3. VennData commented on Feb 3

    To all the folks who said Saudi isn’t a political actor, who said Saudi isn’t using oil as a weapon, who said it’s a conspiracy to think President Obama and the Saudis worked together to punish Russia, Venzuela, Iran….


    Don’t listen to Right Wing websites that can’t give Obama any credit for anything. They are lying to you.

    • VennData commented on Feb 3

      If Putin feeds Syria to the dogs, imagine how his ever shrinking band of allies will feel?

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