The Deipnosophist

Where the science of investing becomes an art of living

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Location: Summerlin, Nevada, United States

A private investor for 20+ years, I manage private portfolios and write about investing. You can read my market musings on three different sites: 1) The Deipnosophist, dedicated to teaching the market's processes and mechanics; 2) Investment Poetry, a subscription site dedicated to real time investment recommendations; and 3) Seeking Alpha, a combination of the other two sites with a mix of reprints from this site and all-original content. See you here, there, or the other site!

03 August 2008

Proft From the Peak - a review

Brian Hicks' and Chris Nelder's recently published book, Proft From the Peak, comes as a complete surprise, and a pleasant one at that.

A surprise to me, certainly, as I suffered the pre-conception that this book would be a quickie -- written and published hurriedly to take advantage of a topical issue. But it is, instead, well-argued, provides an in-depth analysis of the full cohort of issues, and does it all logically, consistently, coherently, and patiently.

The book's subtitle, "The End of Oil and the Greatest Investment Event of the Century" states the authors' intentions clearly and starkly, and sets out their far-reaching effort:
"... we take a hard look at the future of oil and gas, and how to invest in what's left. Then we explore the potential (and the limitations) of each of the energy alternatives, and the carefully considered investing angles on each one. Although this is a study in how to profit from the peak, we hop it is also more than that: a sober look at the future of humanity as a whole. On current trends, humanity could reach the peak of food, water, and all forms of energy by 2020..."

A massive effort, theirs; by and large, they succeed. Oddly, as I read the book, I thought Chapter 2, "What is peak oil?" would prove to be my favorite, as it digs deeply for what oil is, where it comes from, how we drill for it, and distill, process, refine, market, and use it. The chapter satisfies my interest in knowing the etymology (to misuse a word) of all things.

But the authors surprised me again; that chapter, excellent though it is, is only one of many excellent chapters. The authors dissect exceedingly well the questions and answers of energy -- finding, obtaining, using, and the many (proposed) alternatives -- and from so many perspectives that I suspect they cover them all. They do so fully from the question of supply, though, with no proportionate interest in the demand side of the equation; specifically, how to lessen demand to extend the lifespan of abundant, available, and inexpensive energy. I consider this a wise decision: better to investigate how to increase supply by new technologies and new products than to venture toward the hornets' nest of social engineering via decreasing users' demand for a product in diminution..

"My father rode a camel. I drive a car. My son flies a jet airplane. His son will ride a camel."
-- popular Saudi Arabian aphorism

Profit From the Peak serves admirably well my interests as a private consumer, selfish investor, and your fellow global citizen. Kudos to everyone involved with Profit From the Peak, which receives my highest recommendation.
-- David M Gordon / The Deipnosophist

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