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Bullshit Markets or Markets in Bullshit?

by ChrisCook Sat Aug 24th, 2013 at 08:02:56 AM EST

David Graeber has just come up with a great meme on the subject of bullshit jobs.

I've been saying for eight years that emissions trading (invented by Enron) is a (bullshit) market invented by middlemen for middlemen.

One of the analogies I have found useful in critiquing this by reference to system inputs and outputs, has been a joking reference to animal inputs and outputs. To wit, if you wish to keep a bull healthy, you don't regulate what comes out of it, you regulate what goes in.

The Danes have since 1973 taken as a basis for their energy strategy the underlying principle of the least carbon fuel into their energy system for a given output of electricity, heat or power. This variation on a least energy cost policy is of course almost invariably in conflict with what may be the 'least $ cost' solutions available.

The outcome of this energy strategy and policies has been that since 1980 Danish GDP has risen (in DK terms) by 78% while their energy use has been stable, and their carbon fuel use has declined significantly.....and as a bonus little Denmark (6 million souls) now has the biggest wind turbine manufacturer in the world, and the greatest body of heat engineering expertise.

The point I am getting to is that it is actually possible - through using a simple prepay (unit returnable in payment for value received) instrument for carbon fuel - to monetise the intrinsically valuable energy content of carbon rather than the intrinsically worthless (other than as a specialised chemical) $ value of CO2.

On a 'top down' and macro scale I have been saying to the Iranians in particular that they (and every other producer and consumer nation) should concentrate their efforts on prospecting and producing oil and gas savings. I have been in Tehran and Baku recently in respect of the development of domestic and regional financial markets in gas and power using a clearing union architecture and prepay instruments.

If you network micro/meso then the result is resilient macro and the other 'bottom up' focus of my work has therefore been a new generation of community investment in energy savings.

Firstly, direct investment can be made in the cheapest carbon energy of all - nega barrels and nega therms of heat savings, ideally at decentralised local level (as the Danes do) but using a Community Green Deal framework and instrument.

Secondly, through prepayment for bio-gas and electricity it is possible to fund what are literally rural markets in bullshit and energy derived from it.

The key point which shines through is the need for a globally linked but decentralised Natural Grid as an outcome of least energy cost policies, rather than the centralised and wasteful (and pretty toxic) National Grids which result from least $ cost policies.

In a nutshell we need to keep score in energy not $, € and £, whatever those symbols are or represent.

I shall, when I have time to do it justice, return to this subject of accounting/keeping score by way of a follow up to the Chiralkine  debate/inquisition which I kicked off the other day, and which appears now to be generating more heat than light....although it has IMHO shone a great deal of light in some interesting places.

NB - No mathematics or pie-fights below, please.


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sat Aug 24th, 2013 at 04:14:33 PM EST
I was introduced to emissions trading way back in law school nearly 30 years ago by Prof. Jim Krier, who was a big fan of it because he wanted markets to carry the load of distributing emissions.  My thought at the time was that, while it may have looked good in an ivory tower, there was no way it wouldn't turn into a broker's shell game.  The trading units would end up sliced and diced in wholly arbitrary ways designed to line the brokers' pockets.
by rifek on Tue Aug 27th, 2013 at 07:10:19 PM EST
If you have some time to do so, could you explain a bit more the danish prepay system?


by Xavier in Paris on Wed Sep 4th, 2013 at 05:52:50 PM EST

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