Thursday, 10 Feb 2011 | 3:01 PM ET

The 'Black Swan' Index: Measuring the Probability of the Improbable

Posted By: Jeff Cox

Investors looking for Black Swans in the stock market may be able to find them in the latest offering from the Chicago Board Options Exchange.

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  Thursday, 10 Feb 2011 | 2:20 PM ET

Massive New US Oil Supply—'Peak Oil' Fears Overblown?

Posted By: Ash Bennington

New drilling techniques may open up "vast fields of previously out-of-reach oil" in the United States—and cut our dependence on foreign oil in half within a decade.

Ed Morse, the head of commodities research at Credit Suisse, predicts that oil imports could be cut by 60 percent—driven by the kind of news announced today—including the discover of additional supplies and improved extraction techniques.

Of course, new technologies aren't entirely without controversy:

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  Thursday, 10 Feb 2011 | 1:45 PM ET

How to Profit From a Muni Bond Crisis

Posted By: John Carney
Photo by: John Carney

Fears of a massive wave of municipal bond defaults have given rise to a new question: how can investors profit if a nightmare meltdown scenario becomes reality?

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  Thursday, 10 Feb 2011 | 1:00 PM ET

Google's Guy In Egypt: Mission Accomplished

Posted By: John Carney
Source: Twitter

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  Thursday, 10 Feb 2011 | 11:48 AM ET

Conservative Think Tank Blasts Obama's Energy Policies

Posted By: Lori Ann LaRocco

Today on Capitol Hill, big oil will be front and center once more when the Energy and Power Subcommittee holds a hearing to examine the effects of the Middle East events on U.S. Energy Policy.

Former U.S. Shell Oil President John Hofmeister is one of the witnesses testifying, and after speaking with John about his testimony, I can guarantee you that it will be a spirited exchange with lawmakers.

With all the buzz around black gold, I decided to speak with Thomas Pyle, president of the Houston-based not-for-profit energy think tank, The Institute for Energy Research (IER). The organization does research and analysis on government energy market regulations.

The IER has been described by Rush Limbaugh as "the energy equivalent of the Heritage Foundation," the well-known conservative think tank based out of Washington, DC. In IER's opinion, free markets provide the most efficient and effective solutions to meeting the global energy and environmental challenges facing society.

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  Thursday, 10 Feb 2011 | 11:03 AM ET

Chinese Analyst: Sell Fannie & Freddie

Posted By: Ash Bennington

The Chinese currently hold about half a trillion dollars in US agency debt.

Perhaps more than half a trillion—no one knows for sure, because current U.S. Treasury statistics do not include purchases the Chinese make from offshore affiliates.

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  Thursday, 10 Feb 2011 | 10:21 AM ET

How Many Jobs Does Gulf Drilling Really Employ? Fact Vs. Fiction

Posted By: Lori Ann LaRocco

There is an interesting fact that many may not know, there are more rigs in the Gulf of Mexico now than there were before the Deep Water Horizon accident.

At the date of the explosion there were 115 rigs in the Gulf. This includes all three types of offshore rigs: Jack Ups, Semi-submersibles and Drill Ships. Out of the 115 rigs, 68 were working and 47 were not.

Fast forward to February 3, 2011, there are 125 rigs in the Gulf. Thirty-four are working and 91 are not. What's interesting with the research is we have seen an increase of two drill ships.

At the time of the explosion, there were nine drill ships, eight were working, one was not. Now there are 11 drill ships in the Gulf. Three working, eight are not.

Now mind you the number of rigs not working has increased, but these rig workers are still being employed. Sources tell me companies are confident they will be able to drill in the Gulf in the near future so they still have their employees on the payroll.

I decided to speak with Moody's Analytics Economist Chris Lafakis. Lafakis is no ordinary economist. He specializes in energy and has been following these trends. I asked him to break down what he is seeing both on the oil, natural gas and alternative energy front.

He also gave me his estimate of how many people are really working in off-shore drilling in the US: not more than 12,500.

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  Thursday, 10 Feb 2011 | 9:36 AM ET

The Muni Debate: Kicking Sass & Taking Names

Posted By: Ash Bennington
Getty Images

After congressional testimony yesterday before the House Oversight Committee, we ended the day pretty much where we began it.

John McDermott has a handy wrap up of events in the Financial Times Alphaville .

Here are his summaries of key testimony:

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  Thursday, 10 Feb 2011 | 8:50 AM ET

Google & Facebook Flirt With Twitter Takeover

Posted By: Ash Bennington

More ECB intervention on Portuguese bonds. [Financial Times]

Bank of England holds rates unchanged despite inflationary pressures. [CNBC via Reuters]

Big investment firms get ripped off on currency trades. [WSJ]

Credit Suisse lowers profit forecast —blames new regulations. [DealBook]

Google & Facebook flirt with Twitter takeover. [CNBC via Reuters]

Further details—and speculation—about proposed German takeover over the NYSE. [Dealbook]

"In praise of Ben Bernanke." (Calculated Risk - Hat Tip: Abnormal Returns)

Married New York congressman emails shirtless photo to woman —then resigns from office. [New York Times]

»Read more
  Thursday, 10 Feb 2011 | 7:19 AM ET

How to Misunderstand Capitalism

Posted By: John Carney
US Capitol Building with cash
US Capitol Building with cash

Someone sent along a link to FIRE Watch—a blog critical of what it views as the dominance of the finance, insurance and real estate businesses over our society.

I'm very sympathetic with this view, by the way. But FIRE Watch makes a crucial mistake that undermines the strength of its argument.

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