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Tony Petroski

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  • Straight Talk on the BP Oil Spill [View article]
    Overdue article by Mr. Gue.

    I'm amazed at the juvenile response to this spill that's come from the Obama people, particularly since they're renowned for their sophistication and skill in marshalling facts and acting in a nuanced manner. Obama himself has burned more jet fuel and gasoline in his time in office than all the other presidents combined (Washington burned more hay and oats but that's another subject). They act as if the oil drillers are international vandals who enjoy soaking pelicans with oil and are indifferent to the deaths of the men on the rig.

    Imagine a similar situation: An oversized truck hauling noxious garbage overturns on the highway causing massive traffic problems and leaking vile fluids into a nearby stream. Do the authorities pretend they've never placed eggshells in the garbage can and refuse to help with the rescue and cleanup until the garbage hauler posts a bond for the estimated costs of all the claims?
    Jun 16, 2010. 09:31 AM | 36 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Real Crisis Is Food: Beginning of the Bull for Agriculture [View article]
    These scare stories are always amusing. The author writes "Thus, since the ‘60s we’ve added roughly three billion people to the planet. But we’ve actually seen a decrease in food output." He then describes "For example, in 1985 the average Chinese consumer ate 44 pounds of meat per year. Today, it’s more than doubled to 110 pounds." So food production is both going up and going down.

    Global warming supposedly will cause water shortages with devasting effects across the planet. Now while I believe global warming is a fantastic hoax, if it's not, it's going to bring into play vast areas of land that are now too cool to reliably produce crops like wheat and corn and will prove to be a boon to food production.

    These commodity plays were out there last year. How many got suckered into them last year. The second time around there will be fewer suckers.

    The unreported story is the demographic collapse of the western world, soon-to-be-declining populations in Europe and Japan, and the recessions caused by reduced demand for land and commodities.
    Jun 22, 2009. 05:15 PM | 32 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Lessons From 5 Years Of Economic Crisis [View article]
    The "capitalist" Roche who believes socialism has just rescued capitalism (I think he's angling to have that carved into an Ivy League monument) likes to use the "heart attack" analogy--you don't ask the heart attack victim to "raise himself up by his own bootstraps."

    I prefer another analogy. In the past it was thought that attaching leeches to bleed a patient would lead to his recovery. It took a while to figure out, but doctors don't prescribe leeches anymore. But the Keynesians fund "shovel-ready" projects run by modern-day leeches and funded by the opportunity cost of real enterprises and entrepreneurs languishing while the "patient" loses blood.

    This straw man can't stand very much longer: "Government is a tool created by us and for us. It’s not always bad!"

    We are in no danger of having too little government. From the amount of Coca Cola we can drink to the flow running through our toilets to the EPA permits necessary to legally break wind we are now, five years later, hopelessly mired in big government. "Austerity" is a word applied to 5% increases in government spending and employment rather than the 8% that the public union demanded.

    We're on the verge of having all of health-care run by government and quasi-government agencies. We are in no danger of erring on the side of too little government.

    Mr. Roche: You're a sheep in sheep's clothing, masking your "capitalist" credentials under a cloak of socialism and bleating along with your fellow journolistas. Spare us this drivel.
    Oct 10, 2012. 04:24 PM | 31 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Book Review: Great Depression Ahead [View article]
    We seem to be setting up for a double-dip recession. A spike in activity and some improvement in the employment stats as the government spends money it doesn't have to bulk up the numbers of community organizers and paid "volunteers," followed by another downturn. The second downturn leads to stagflation. It doesn't have to lead to the "Great Depression II," but in the second dip, nobody will have the stomach for more "stimulus," and the economy will recover. We've been through this before. It's known as the Carter "malaise."
    May 8, 2009. 08:05 AM | 31 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Cash for Clunkers May Cost Up to $45,354 Per Vehicle [View article]
    The author: "Old clunkers don't last forever, and they are almost all eventually replaced. The government is shifting tomorrow's demand to today, stealing from tomorrow to pay for today..."

    That in a nutshell is a great explanation for how a double-dip recession gets rolling.
    Jul 31, 2009. 06:41 PM | 29 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Chesapeake Energy (CHK) says workers have stopped the flow of drilling fluids from a natural gas well in Pennsylvania that leaked the chemical-laced water for two days. Critics say hydraulic fracturing - "fracking" - could poison water supplies; the company claims the incident posed "minimal" environmental impact.  [View news story]
    D Virginia: "...but it clearly demonstrates that there are definitely some problems with how natural gas gets collected, and that at minimum, some investigations and studies are warranted."

    I would be prepared to concede that there are "definitely some problems" with:

    Taking a shower.

    Travelling on a plane.

    Putting gas in my car.

    Stepping out of bed and onto the floor.

    Spraying a field with chemicals.

    Not spraying a field with chemicals.

    Building a bridge.

    Climbing to the top of a ladder.

    Cutting down a tree.

    And etc...

    We've become a nation of people curled up in the fetal position with no solution to our problems other than to stop any activity and study it, hopefully on a government grant. This rot is now showing badly in our economic non-performance. We're a nation with a can't-do attitude.

    The irony of "hope and change" is that it's a program designed to shut down all innovation and cement-in the status quo only with slightly better pay and more benefits.

    It's time for real hope and change, that's why I react when "critics" appear anywhere enterprise is taking place.
    Apr 22, 2011. 11:15 AM | 26 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Washington's Dilemma: This Isn't a Recession, It's a Collapse [View article]
    I love the tone of this article: Praise the Americans for some bygone day when they exported real goods that people around the world wanted, and then chastise today's folks for exporting "debt and dollars." Further, excoriate the public for bingeing on debt and then point out that their new-found love of savings isn't savings at all--it's bankruptcy in disguise. Translation: We are all doomed, this is baked into the cake, and grab the guns and water bottles.

    We have our work cut out for us but this in not "collapse" yet. Not judging by the number of misguided souls who were able to get to Michael Jackson's funeral--they are getting food, fuel and clothing from somebody other than the Chinese.

    If the people are broke and the states are broke, then the federal government is broke. It won't help to have California get "bailed out" by taxing the folks of West Virginia and by inflating the currency. I still haven't figured out why so many Americans send their money to Washington D.C. and then think they will succeed by getting more than their fair share at the expense of some other state. I realize "West Virginia" was a bad example, Robert Byrd and his state suck up about 10% of the national product.

    After Carter came Reagan.
    After Obama:
    Jul 14, 2009. 12:06 PM | 26 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Fiscal Policy: Obama Administration Isn't Making Much Sense [View article]
    It's good you're not running the government.

    Physician: first do no harm. Try doing nothing.

    The markets usually rally when Obama leaves to run around the world. What happened last week?
    Jul 13, 2009. 08:58 AM | 26 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Coming Economic Collapse, Part 1 [View article]
    The author: "This fact stares us in the face everyday, though no one really notices it. In the early ‘70s, typically one parent worked and the other stayed home. Today, BOTH parents work and most Americans are barely getting by."

    I was around in the '70's. Actually, both of my parents worked then. Our "median-priced home" had one bathroom, no air conditioning, no garage, formica countertops, get the picture. Today's "median-priced home" has a three-car garage, central air, granite countertops, 2 and 1/2 baths and so on. You are comparing apples to oranges.

    I spent yesterday working on a home I own which is populated with "poor" people. Mom and the kids inside had the A/C cranked up while watching cable TV. Mom was surfing the (high speed--none of this dial-up nonsense for her) net while I was outside sweating. There is more wealth in this country now by far than in 1970 and this type of analysis has the purpose of cementing the case the our "Citizen of the World" should lead us down the path to more "spreading the wealth" to make things fair.

    Jimmy Carter also warned us that we were in a malaise and we would have to get used to a permanent state of decline. We'll get through this as soon as we give the boot to Jimmy Carter redux and get on with the business of producing again.

    We don't need a prostrate China in order for us to prosper, quite the contrary. Their prosperity aids us as well.

    Thomas Jefferson lamented the rise of manufacturing at the expense of rural hamlets and farming. Now we lament the rise of "services" and "financials" at the expense of manufacturing. The rise of services and financials is not a sign of weakness but of prosperity. Stop attempting to spread the wealth around and allow producers to prosper from their wealth and we'll have a new beginning.
    Jun 5, 2009. 03:14 PM | 25 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Marginal Tax Rates Killed Growth And Threaten Earnings [View article]
    This is the latest in a series of articles I've read that go like this: "The Democrat plan won't work because high taxes on the rich discourage investment in risk assets that grow the economy, i.e, the Keynesians and demand-siders are wrong. The Republican plan won't work because my charts show the economy grows fastest with high marginal rates on the rich, i.e., Friedmanites and supply-siders are wrong..."

    Therefore, I have a middle way that will lead to prosperity.

    Oh, the echoes of history. (Disclosure: I'm a Friedmanite/Gilderite supply-sider)
    "If marginal tax rates are too low, it is cheap for the wealthy to pull equity out of their businesses as personal income. Their personal income shoots up leaving less money within businesses. The wealthy become more likely to live a life of ease off existing wealth."

    There's a lot wrong with that quote. And I'm afraid neither candidate for President of the United States nor their running mates have a grasp of some fundamentals:

    1) There ain't no "rich," "middle class," "working class" (or in speeches you drop the "g" to show solidarity with the "workin' class") "bourgeousie," "proletariat" or whatever category you want to use to make silly, Ivy League points--although I concede there are still a few Marxist students and college professors.

    The U.S. society and economy remains a fluid place where a man goes from being in poverty, working from hand to mouth, gaining some measure of success, hitting on a breakthrough that makes him part of "the rich," losing that breakthrough and going bankrupt making him part of "the poor." Then making it all back again. Both of our major political parties and the author of this article make the mistake of creating static categories to describe fluid conditions.

    It was a given in the late '70's in Thatcher England and the early '80's of Reagan America that high tax rates collected little revenue but encouraged conspicuous consumption among "the rich" because they had no incentive to put their wealth at risk, hence Bentleys all over London and BMW's all over Hollywood. Lowering those top rates took guts as the folks who proposed to do so were excoriated by the usual suspects, those lookin' out for the workin' man and "the poor." The supply-siders were accused of being heartless, lacking of compassion--we know the drill. Reagan was portrayed on "Saturday Night Live" as a vampire who wanted to suck the blood of children.

    But he went ahead anyway and the rest is history.

    2) High tax rates do nothing to the guys that already have their pile at the expense of the up-and-comers. That's why Buffett and Gates want to pay more taxes while the Buffett and Gates of the next generation are scrambling to re-invest all their earnings back into their businesses. Yes, I know the author is making this point in a subtle way--but he's too clever by half. He's fueling the fire of those who envy all producers of wealth by making academic arguments that will be washed away in the political debate. We need at least one party to champion freedom, low tax rates for all, prosperity for all and the promotion of a country congenial to free people pursuing their own happiness. Instead, the author sets himself up like a laboratory technician placing cheese in the right spots of the maze. Sorry, but the rats are already onto that game.

    3) In contrast to Thatcher's England and Reagan's American, we are in much worse shape. Our cities, hollowed out shells, are run by one party with no political competition. If 47% of the nation isn't the right number, pick one. Large swaths of our countrymen do nothing, live off the dole and represent a huge loss of human invention and productivity. An even larger swath makes their living catering to the first swath. Something has to be done about this or we're finished. We're nearing a tipping point when half the nation will be on food stamps and the entire nation will be on Obamacare.

    How about proposing that everyone pull their weight and contribute to the common good? Why exempt half the nation from any responsibility and pretend that a few guys in California can be taxed to the hilt until we reach a balanced budget? It won't work. Your "third way" won't work. The American Way does work. Let's stop stumbling down the wrong path and take ourselves back to that fork in the road, the place where we mistakenly chose Eurosocialism over the American Way. It's not too late.
    Oct 12, 2012. 09:40 AM | 23 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Chesapeake Energy (CHK) says workers have stopped the flow of drilling fluids from a natural gas well in Pennsylvania that leaked the chemical-laced water for two days. Critics say hydraulic fracturing - "fracking" - could poison water supplies; the company claims the incident posed "minimal" environmental impact.  [View news story]
    "Critics say hydraulic fracturing - "fracking" - could poison water supplies..."

    Sloppy journalism. Name these "critics."

    Yeah, I know there's a link.
    Apr 22, 2011. 09:57 AM | 22 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Paul Krugman's 'The Accidental Theorist' Proves He's Almost Always Right [View article]
    The author:

    "It does, however, have a single method: think clearly, look at the facts, and remember that people respond to incentives, that supply balances demand, and that there are a lot of politically-motivated ideologues making shabby arguments out there."

    Couldn't agree more. I've always put Krugman in the "politically-motivated ideologue making shabby arguments out there" category. Since I haven't read the book, although I suspect I've already read most of the essays, I'll keep an open mind as the article writer suggests.

    Still, I couldn't help applauding the Bob Dole comment above (I'm one of his ilk). I lament the political passing of Bob as he was the last one audacious enough to hope we could change the status quo and shrink government--he proposed in a debate eliminating the federal department of education. Instead we elected a man who spent his days having "affairs" with interns and telling us that "the era of big government is over."

    Paul Krugman: Cheerleader for the nanny state (and soon to be "nursing state"). May you and your fellow Citizens of the World migrate to Denmark, Sweden or any other place congenial to you where the quality of life is high, government "services" are high, the population is high (perhaps Amsterdam would be the place) and it's all paid for by redistributing the fish caught by others.
    Jan 22, 2010. 10:33 AM | 22 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The True Genius Of Tesla [View article]
    "I'm an occasional critic of Tesla Motors (TSLA) because I believe electric cars, as a product class, are unconscionable waste and pollution masquerading as conservation. After patiently deconstructing prevailing zero emissions vehicle, energy efficiency, energy independence and renewable power mythologies, the debate has finally been reduced to the admittedly superior performance of the Tesla Model S, and the underemphasized but critically important reality that buyers who are smart and well-heeled enough to spring for a Tesla can avoid the plebeian burden of traffic as they cruise along in the HOV lane. For many, the HOV perk justifies the price."

    Speaking for the plebeians, or, as I prefer, "the hoi polloi," Mr. Peterson has summed up the matter in two great lines: In a free market of free people pursuing happiness, debates about Teslas or vehicles running on chicken droppings are of little interest. The debate takes on importance when important people running things like the EPA or the Oval Office decide that the game will be rigged to favor the "model 'A' of electrical cars" or decide that some types of energy are more equal than others.

    Thus we are led into coal-generated electric cars by a government bent on destroying the coal industry. Interesting times indeed.
    Dec 20, 2012. 09:38 AM | 21 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Wisconsin Assembly passes a bill that would strip most public workers of their collective bargaining rights, setting up a showdown in the state's Senate. The Republican agenda is now apparent to all, Paul Krugman says: "Union-busting and privatization remain GOP priorities, and the party will continue its efforts to smuggle those priorities through in the name of balanced budgets."  [View news story]
    Just as "slashing" budget deficits means only increasing spending in the coming year to 3-4% rather than 8-10%,

    asking a public-sector employee to increase by a few percent their contribution towards their pension is "union busting."

    Some day you may see real union busting when the half of the country that produces things decides to break off their union with the half that "spreads the wealth around."
    Feb 25, 2011. 10:22 AM | 21 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • 57% of Americans Still Think We're in a Recession [View article]
    Good article Mr. Mark.

    The recession never started for federal government workers and they currently are enjoying a boom.

    The recession didn't hit state government workers--until now.

    The recession hit Wall Street in early 2008 and their recovery began in March of 2009 and they are currently booming.

    The recession hit Main Street in 2008 and the recovery hasn't started.

    That's the view from the street--you can guess which one.
    Feb 18, 2011. 12:23 PM | 20 Likes Like |Link to Comment