Blowing Bubbles

When the world went off the gold standard, the United States was in relatively good financial shape, with modest debt and a stable relationship between new borrowing and new wealth creation. That is, Americans were a productive, somewhat frugal people who tended to borrow wisely for things that produced useful, marketable stuff. But with the global supply of currency soaring, it became easier for baby boomers who began turning 30 in the 1970s to adopt debt as a way of life and to elect leaders...

Next Generation Batteries

Generally speaking, a battery is an enclosed store of chemicals that react under controlled conditions to produce an electrical charge. In some batteries, like the common alkaline versions used in toys and flashlights, the chemical process goes one way, and once it 's done, the battery is exhausted. With other kinds of batteries, the chemical reactions are reversible, and a current flowing through them converts the chemicals back to a state where they can again release a charge. Today's...

Electric Cars

The advent of plug-in hybrids leads to an obvious question If a mostly electric car is possible, why not dispense with internal combustion altogether and go completely electric Wouldn't such a car with only one relatively simple drivetrain and a single motor be both cheaper and cleaner The short answer is yes, but. Yes, a world of mostly electric cars powered by solar- and wind-generated electricity would be a much better place, for a variety of obvious reasons. But based on the difficulties...

Discount Broker with Foreign Access

Brokers recognize both the attraction of foreign stocks and the difficulties they present for the average customer, so some are making it easier. Big discount broker Charles Schwab (866-232-9890, www .schwab.com), for instance, has a Global Investing Services Group that helps clients trade foreign stocks. If a client is interested in, say, wind power stocks, a Schwab broker will print out a list of global wind companies and help narrow the search down to a couple of suitable prospects. Then...

Table Wind Power Stocks

Range from the world 's 1 argest power companies, like Spanish utilities Iberdrola and Acciona and America 's FPL, all the way down to single-farm entrepreneurs. And new entrants are pouring in as quickly as land can be leased and turbines delivered. Then there are the component makers that supply the industry with everything from carbon fiber for turbine blades, to specialized electronics, to information management services. Here again, new companies are forming and private firms are going...

Global Trading Platform

Most people need help with foreign stocks. For those who don ' t, Interactive Brokers (IB, 877-442-2757, www.interactivebrokers .com) offers a very slick universal account (minimum balance 10,000) from which clients can trade foreign and domestic equities, options, commodities, foreign exchange, futures, and bonds. IB isn' t well known among individual investors because it caters to hedge fund managers and other professionals. But it's been around for 31 years and is very big, handling 700,000...

Vehicleto Grid Electricity

Here's where the plug-in hybrid electric car story transcends its category. Picture a fleet of these cars being charged overnight with off-peak power and then driven into town by commuters who will spend the day at the office. Thousands of batteries, full of energy downloaded from the grid during the night, represent a huge potential source of peak power. Plug them back into the grid, and they can feed some of that energy back at a time the middle of the day when it - most needed. Called...

Full Service Foreign Stock Specialist

You might recognize Peter Schiff from his frequent appearances on CNBC and other media. He 's made a name for himself as a bear on the U.S. financial markets, correctly predicting much of the turmoil that was gripping dollar-denominated investments in early 2008. He also owns a brokerage house, Euro Pacific Capital (800 27-7922, www.europac.net), that specializes in giving U.S. investors access to foreign stocks. Schiff and his brokers trade directly on foreign exchanges for their customers,...

Corn Ethanol Farm Subsidy in Drag

The first biofuel to be widely used in the United States was ethanol, an alcohol derived from corn. It was first because it' s easy, rather than especially good. Corn is something American farmers know how to grow in vast quantities, and American truckers and railroads know how to ship. To turn it into ethanol, the corn is ground up and processed using heat, water, and enzymes to convert the liquefied starch to sugars, which are fermented into ethanol and carbon dioxide. The ethanol is then...

Biofuels Growth Prospects

Given the progress that's being made on multiple fronts, it's likely that a decade hence, some combination of cellulosic ethanol, biodiesel, and biomass (along with other biofuels like butanol) will supply a significant part of humanity's energy. But the investment angle is not yet clear. First'generation biofuels aren ' t worthy of much enthusiasm, even though government mandates appear to guarantee a few more years of strong demand. And none of the half dozen promising next'generation biofuel...

Figure Corn Used in Ethanol Production

Biodiesel), other agricultural commodities, like wheat and soybeans, are way up, too. The soaring price of wheat actually caused Italian consumers to stage a one-day pasta-buying strike in late 2007. In the end, it was all for naught When analysts finally got around to running the numbers, it turned out that for corn etha-nol to replace a significant part of U.S. oil imports would require pretty much all the available farmland, thus sending food prices through the roof. And, icing on the rancid...

Biodiesel Again Not Food

Diesel fuel powers engines in which pressure rather than a spark causes combustion. It 's big in Europe and, thanks to a new generation of quieter, cleaner diesel engines, might see dramatic growth in the United States and elsewhere. So a renewable source of this fuel would have a big potential market. Biodiesel ' s story is similar to that of ethanol Today's version is made from vegetable sources like soy and palm oil. But that's a dead end, for a variety of reasons. First, these sources don't...

Index

Spain , 61, 145, 146 Acta London , 113 AFC Energy London , 113 Agazzi, Shai, 78 AgCert Ireland , 121, 124 Agriculture. See also Aquaculture Biofuels Corn Food security current crises, 159-160 effect of corn ethanol production on farmland, 95-96 genetically modified crops, 160-162 hydroponics, 164-165 slash-and-burn, 22 soil degradation, in Roman empire, 24 Agribiotec. See Genetic engineering Ahmadinejad, Malmoud, 37 Airlines, 178, 238. See also Boeing Air Products, 108, 113 Akeena...

Private Sector Players

A whole range of private-sector companies now see emissions credits as a growth market. For investment banks, the attraction of another big trading opportunity is obvious. But many of them are going further, actually initiating, financing, and managing projects to retrofit Indian factories, clean up Russian pipelines, and plant trees in Indonesia. This kind of merchant banking generates a river of fees that culminate it is hoped in trading profits and capital gains when the projects come to...

State of the Market

Green building is being adopted by everyone from architects to builders to appliance makers. But it's less of a revolution than a mass conversion. Upstarts, by and large, are not displacing entrenched interests the players are the same, and the numbers in terms of construction spending, housing starts, industry employment, etc. are in line with those of past years. There are few large wind farmtype installations that signify a radical break with the past. Just a lot of more livable, efficient...