Barry Ritholtz: The Effect Of Corruption On The Markets (Aug. 27)

August 30, 2011
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It’s Time To Kill The Electric Car, Drive A Stake Through Its Heart And Burn The Corpse

August 27, 2011

You crazy fuckers out there buying overpriced tat like Prickuses and Insights and Leafs seem very smug, thinking you are a better man than I because you, as a ‘true believer’ are alone doing something to ‘save the planet’ from big/peak/corporate oil and are actively living the ‘green’ lifestyle. Gettin’ involved. Livin’ the green dream.

Here is a reality check  [ via Seeking Alpha ]:

Relevant excerpts:

“The storage battery is one of those peculiar things which appeals to the imagination, and no more perfect thing could be desired by stock swindlers than that very self-same thing. Just as soon as a man gets working on the secondary battery it brings out his latent capacity for lying.” -Thomas Edison

When Edison was complaining about batteries, specific energies of 25 wh/kg were common. A hundred and thirty years later specific energies of 150 wh/kg are pushing the envelope. A six-fold improvement over 130 years does not provide a rational basis for prevailing expectations.

Let’s face it folks, it’s time to kill the electric car, drive a stake through its heart and burn the corpse. Companies like Tesla Motors (TSLA) are doomed because their vanity products can’t possibly make a difference and have all the environmental and economic relevance of pet rocks.

Using batteries as fuel tank replacements is a zero-sum game that consumes huge quantities of metals for the sole purpose of substituting electricity for oil. Since roughly 45% of domestic electric power is from coal fired plants and that percentage will decline very slowly, the only rational conclusion is that electric drive is unconscionable waste and pollution masquerading as conservation.

Given the nature of the investing process I don’t expect anyone to accept my logic without independently verifying the facts. I sincerely hope that this article will give at least a few investors reason to question their own assumptions in a hopium free environment. Most of us grew up in a rare period of privilege, prosperity and plenty that has seriously distorted our worldview. If we don’t accept the reality that our supply chain assumptions are fatally flawed, we can’t possibly identify realistic solutions that can be implemented at relevant scale.

I drive a used car, which gets decent mpg. I avoid the immediate depreciation suffered by new car suckers. I drive it sparingly, preferring to walk, ride public transport, or bicycle to get from point A to B. I fill it up once per month. I AM green, here me roar.

And I recycle, even though it’s a state tax scam in CA and I’d could just as easily throw it all in the garbage.

There are no political solutions for problems presented by physics.  Mother nature is beyond the reach of the law.