Sunday, April 30, 2006

Wal-Mart of Wine

Since the first bottle of 'Two-Buck Chuck' sold four years ago, vintner Fred Franzia's company has shaken up the industry by driving down prices

By Jerry Hirsch
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

On a wind-swept vineyard south of Sacramento, a small army of laborers armed with razor-sharp knives is fighting the next battle in California's wine wars.

Prunings from last year's cabernet sauvignon crop lie in piles next to Jose Antonio Gonzalez and his crew as they make their way down the long rows of this 3,000-acre vineyard.

Gonzalez pauses, then deftly uses his long knife to strip bark from a section of the woody vine. Sap wells forth like tears. Gonzalez slices deeper into the plant. He angles two pinot noir cuttings into the opening and then secures the graft with white plastic tape. Another worker seals the wound with tar.

"You are seeing the creation of Charles Shaw Pinot Noir," Fred Franzia, chief executive of Bronco Wine Co. and father of the popular "Two-Buck Chuck," tells a visitor as they watch Gonzalez and his crew work.

Once thought a transient artifact of a recent grape glut, Bronco's $2 wine has grown into a permanent fixture in the marketplace, now accounting for about 12% of the domestic wine shipped within California, said consultant Jon Fredrikson of Gomberg, Fredrikson & Associates in Woodside, Calif.

Since the first bottle of Charles Shaw sold at a Trader Joe's market a little more than four years ago, Franzia's company has perfected the low-end wine business by whittling expenses in everything from vineyard management to cork purchasing.

In the process, Bronco has become the Wal-Mart of wine — driving down costs and prices in a way that is shaking up the entire industry.

"Until recently the wine business as a whole has focused on competing on quality and has not focused as much on cost," said Bill Turrentine, president of Turrentine Brokerage, a Novato-based grape and bulk wine broker. "But that's what Franzia has shown the industry. He exacts maximum efficiency out of the entire supply chain to produce inexpensive, quality wine."

For $2.99, consumers can have Bronco's J.W. Morris Chardonnay. A couple bucks more will buy a bottle of the company's Black Mountain Pinot Noir. Last year, Bronco offered a $3.99 Napa Creek Merlot made by a Napa Valley vintner that found itself stuck with too much wine and sold the surplus to Bronco. There's even a sparkler, the $5.99 Almond Creek Vineyards almond-flavored bubbly.

"I think this level of wine fills a real niche in the market," Cory Merchant said as he shopped the wine aisle at a Trader Joe's in Long Beach.

Merchant said he could serve Shaw, Morris or any other Bronco budget wine to most of his friends and few would be able to discern any difference from more expensive labels.

Others say there is a difference, but that the price can't be beat.

"Charles Shaw is a great bargain," Malcomb Davis said as he purchased two bottles from the Long Beach store. "It might not be as hearty as a $7 or $8 wine, but it is good."

Whether they're buying it for the taste or the price, wine lovers are drinking about 6 million cases of Two-Buck Chuck annually.

And Shaw's volume is likely to grow this year as Bronco adds new varietals to the lineup and Trader Joe's, the brand's exclusive retailer, continues a nationwide expansion, Fredrikson said.

The company can exploit this segment of the market — where the profit margins are so thin that few other companies are willing to compete — because of the massive vineyard and winery infrastructure it has built since its founding in 1973.

"It is a big competitive advantage," said Walt Klenz, the former global managing director of Beringer Blass Wine Estates. "Franzia bought a lot [of land and facilities] at the right time and at the right prices."

Bronco controls 35,000 acres of California vineyards — more than any other vintner — including its large holdings in Herald, and grows enough grapes to supply 60% of the 27 million cases of wine it produced last year, Franzia said.

Bronco's main winery and headquarters in the Central Valley town of Ceres sprawls across 500 acres, including a forest of stainless-steel tanks and fermenters that can hold 82 million gallons, or the equivalent of 410 million bottles, of wine.

As production of Two-Buck Chuck outgrew the operations in Ceres, Bronco snapped up a winery in nearby Escalon for about $6 million in 2003; it is spending millions more to upgrade machinery and filtering equipment and expand wine storage capacity there.

Bronco also has built a high-speed bottling plant in Napa licensed to process 18 million cases of wine a year, more than twice the annual production of the entire Napa Valley.

A tour of Ceres reveals a sophisticated operation capable of processing huge loads of grapes in a short period of time.

At the front of the winery, nine large grape presses, each able to handle a 50-ton truckload of fruit, can process 2,400 tons of grapes a day at harvest time. Another bank of presses farther back has the same capacity.

So many trucks come through during the grape harvest that there's a 10-acre staging area to handle them all.

Automation allows Bronco to reduce the number of workers per shift to about a fifth of what some other wineries use, said Ed Moody, Bronco's director of winemaking, who has worked at other winemakers.

"Efficiency is the name of the game," Moody said. "That's how you can get down to $1.99 a bottle."

Bronco collected about $500 million in revenue last year and is profitable, Franzia said. He declined to disclose more details about the company, which he owns with brother Joseph Franzia and cousin John Franzia Jr.

"The strength of our company is cash flow. We are sitting with great facilities and vineyards and have no debt," Franzia said. "We have control of our infrastructure from supply to bottling to distribution, and we have shrunk most of the middlemen out of the process."

In California, Bronco uses its Classic Wines division to ship its vintages to Trader Joe's, other retailers and restaurants, cutting out wholesalers, which control much of the industry.

That relationship with Trader Joe's is a big piece of Bronco's success. Its largest retail customer, the chain sells about $120 million in Bronco wine annually.

Trader Joe's declined to discuss its relationship with Bronco except to say that at any given time it is selling Shaw and two or three additional labels from the vintner.

"Trader Joe's moves the product, pays us in 10 days and is not greedy about the margins," Moody said. "We don't want to see big markups in our wine. Our business plan is to provide value to the customer. This is a volume business."

To cut expenses on the Shaw brand, Bronco uses its own grapes for most of the product. And instead of aging the wine in oak barrels like more expensive vintages, it uses oak wood chips to flavor the wine.

When it gets ready to bottle Shaw, Bronco prepares for a two- to three-day run, filling 60,000 cases at a time, more than the annual output of most California wineries.

Before Charles Shaw, Bronco was best known as a supplier to Beringer and other large wineries of bulk wine to use for blending into their respective labels. The launch of Charles Shaw wine roiled the industry at a time when it was suffering from a surplus of grapes and falling prices.

Franzia used the surplus to his advantage, snapping up higher-quality vintages to blend with his own wine to create a product far better than what the typical consumer expected for $2, said Michaela Rodeno, CEO of St. Supery Vineyards & Winery in Napa Valley and chairwoman of the Wine Market Council.

Other vintners tried to jump into the market, but only Bronco has been able to make $2 bottled wine work, Klenz observed, in part because it appealed to the budget gourmet consumers who flock to Trader Joe's. Rival brands sold by supermarket chains never gained the same cachet.

Franzia was fortunate, Fredrikson said, to hit the market during "a reverse snobbery trend" that made it "OK to bring Two-Buck Chuck to a dinner party."

Already the fourth-largest producer of California wine, Bronco plans to get bigger.

The Franzias are considering building a $50-million facility to make red wine on land adjacent to the cooling towers of the shuttered Rancho Seco nuclear power plant southeast of Sacramento. It would handle 200,000 to 300,000 tons of fruit and process 51 million gallons of wine.

And having conquered California, Bronco is looking farther afield. The company is steadily building its Europe business: It ships blush wine to British retailing giant Tesco and under the California Winery label now sells more than 250,000 gallons of wine each year in France.

Voluble and humorous one minute and cagey the next, Franzia is one of the most controversial figures in California's $15.5-billion retail wine industry.

In 1993, Franzia pleaded guilty to intentionally mislabeling 5,000 tons of grapes over a five-year period, a felony. The amount of fruit — labeled as white zinfandel but also containing grenache and colombard varieties — was enough to make 1 million gallons of wine valued at $5 million.

Bronco paid a $2.5-million fine. Franzia himself paid a $500,000 fine, stepped down as Bronco's CEO to become the chief financial officer and removed himself from the board of directors for five years.

A long-running fight between Franzia, the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control and the Napa Valley Vintners trade group over the use of Napa-oriented place names in the labels of some Bronco wine was settled last week.

Bronco has lost numerous appeals to the California Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court seeking the right to market wine such as Napa Ridge, Napa Creek and Rutherford Vineyards even though the wine was made with grapes from other regions. Lacking legal options, Franzia has agreed to adhere to California's wine labeling regulations.

Despite the legal setbacks, Franzia has earned the grudging respect of many in the industry, in part because of his efforts to improve the quality of California's vineyards. Franzia believes better vineyards lead to better-tasting wine, which would be the state's best protection against imports, which take up more than a quarter of the U.S. market.

Last year his company made a 10-year pledge to establish the Bronco Wine Co. Chair of Viticulture at Cal State Fresno. The post places an emphasis on researching and teaching to improve vineyard mechanization and management in the San Joaquin Valley.

And only E. & J. Gallo Winery, California's largest winemaker, has given more money to the American Vineyard Foundation since 2001.

"Fred is a great businessman," said longtime critic Tom Shelton, CEO of Joseph Phelps Vineyards, "as long as he is playing by the rules."

Saturday, April 29, 2006

A 20 años de la muerte de Prebisch

Un economista tucumano al que le rendimos culto hasta el dia de hoy. Su teoria de que somos pobres porque compramos productos industriales y vendemos materias primas fue un gran motor del proteccionismo en la Argentina.
Ojala estuviera vivo para ver lo mal que la estan pasando paises como Australia o Chile...

Friday, April 28, 2006

El trafico en la India...

y en Los Angeles...


Excelente. Simpatica historia. Maravillosamente filmada. Los Angeles en su esplendor.

Del Opinador Compulsivo:

Muy interesante review de La Grande Parade, el último libro de Jean François Revel. Lo anoto para mi lista de lectura:

Revel points out that critics attribute to capitalism the characteristics of totalitarianism. John Gray, in his 1998 book False Dawn, described “liberal ideology” as a utopia. Economic liberalism is also often said to be a dictatorship: governments are no longer accountable to people but to corporations. France’s leading anti-capitalist author, Vivianne Forrester, whose new book is entitled Une étrange dictature, told a recent television show that “we are experiencing a form of totalitarianism”.

The widespread idea that behind capitalism’s benign surface lurks a monster is rarely challenged – even in market-friendly Britain. A recent remark by the left-wing politician Ken Livingstone that “every year the international financial system kills more people than Hitler” drew mostly mild rebuke. Britain’s leading liberal publication, The Economist, commented that Mr Livingstone “still allows his wild mouth to get the better of him.” Londoners took the remark even less seriously and elected him mayor of a city that contains Europe’s main financial centre. Compare this with the international furore over the Black Book’s (much better documented) contention that communism killed more people than Hitler.

Revel observes that the debate between liberals and their critics is warped by a basic misunderstanding. Capitalism is often viewed as an ideology, a socialism in reverse. Markets, it’s often said, are not the answer to everything – as if anyone had ever made such a silly claim. “Since socialism was conceived in the delusion that it could resolve all problems,” Revel writes, “its supporters attribute the same conceit to their contradictors.” But unlike socialism, capitalism was never a blueprint for an ideal society: it evolved by trial and error down the centuries. Capitalism is not so much a doctrine as it is a process by which new arrangements are being tested. Anti-capitalism, Revel concludes, boils down to a hatred of progress.

Habra que ver esta pelicula... 91 puntos en Metacritic!

United 93

Metascore: 91 Metascore out of 100
MPAA RATING: R for language, and some intense sequences of terror and violence

Starring JJ Johnson, Polly Adams, Cheyenne Jackson, Opal Alladin, Starla Benford, Trish Gates, Nancy McDoniel, and David Alan Basche

Acclaimed filmmaker Paul Greengrass writes and directs an unflinching drama that tells the story of the passengers and crew, their families on the ground and the flight controllers who watched in dawning horror as United Flight 93 became the fourth hijacked plane on the day of the worst terrorist attacks on American soil: September 11, 2001. (Universal Pictures)

GENRE(S): Drama
WRITTEN BY: Paul Greengrass
DIRECTED BY: Paul Greengrass
RELEASE DATE: Theatrical: April 28, 2006
RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes, Color

What The Critics Said

All critic scores are converted to a 100-point scale. If a critic does not indicate a score, we assign a score based on the general impression given by the text of the review.

The Hollywood Reporter Kirk Honeycutt
Greengrass has made not only a thoroughly fact-checked film but a film that uncontrovertibly comes from the heart.

New York Magazine David Edelstein
Brilliant, tightly focused, and momentous.

Newsweek David Ansen
This is first-rate, visceral filmmaking, no question: taut, watchful, free of false histrionics, as observant of the fear in the young terrorists' eyes as the hysteria in the passenger cabin, and smart enough to know this material doesn't need to be sensationalized or sentimentalized.

The New Yorker David Denby
Greengrass’s movie is tightly wrapped, minutely drawn, and, no matter how frightening, superbly precise.

ReelViews James Berardinelli
United 93 is powerful not only in the way it provides hope through the actions of a few unlikely heroes, but in its ability to take us back through time to a day many of us would prefer not to remember, but will never forget.

USA Today Claudia Puig
An unflinching, powerfully visceral and haunting portrait of the tragic events aboard one of the terrorist-commandeered flights on the fateful morning of Sept. 11, 2001.

Dallas Observer Robert Wilonsky
May be the most wrenching, profound and perfectly made movie nobody wants to see.

LA Weekly Scott Foundas
It is the highest compliment I can pay Greengrass to say that he is a master of the mundane, the routine and the everyday.

Rolling Stone Peter Travers
Far from being exploitive, the effect is inspiring: This is the best of us.

Time Richard Corliss
The controversial film that is unbearable--and unmissable.

Christian Science Monitor Peter Rainer
What United 93 demonstrates, as if we needed proof, is that it is too soon - it may always be too soon - to sort out the feelings from that day.

Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern
Quite remarkably, though, its clear-eyed view of an unprecedented American tragedy leaves us with emotions that audiences of those earlier days would readily recognize -- love of country, bottomless grief, an appreciation of life's preciousness and fragility. A film that can do this and also teach is to be cherished. And seen. It's time.

Film Threat Pete Vonder Haar
You’re unlikely to come across a more powerful film this year.

TV Guide Ken Fox
One of the most harrowing, viscerally upsetting films ever made.

Chicago Tribune Michael Phillips
The superb United 93, from the British writer-director Paul Greengrass, does not waste time defining the undefinable. Nor does it strain for poetry when, with this story, prose is enough.

Philadelphia Inquirer Steven Rea
It's Greengrass' way of asking a question that looms large in these post-9/11 days: Are we all praying to the same God, or is one man's God better than another, and one man's God vastly more terrifying?

Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert
This is a masterful and heartbreaking film, and it does honor to the memory of the victims.

Baltimore Sun Michael Sragow
There's no cheap uplift to their victory, no pop catharsis. What's great about United 93 is that you never feel it's just a movie - even though, as a movie, it's terrific.

Portland Oregonian Shawn Levy
I am here to tell you that Greengrass has fashioned one of the most powerful films I have ever seen, and that watching it makes you value your loved ones and your privileges more, perhaps, than you ever have. He has made a film that makes you feel, makes you think and makes you want to connect. And that, finally, might be the greatest thing that art can do.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer William Arnold
A respectful, accomplished, non-exploitative piece of historical filmmaking and -- for audiences -- a gripping white-knuckle ride all the way.

Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum
Pulling the bandage of sentiment cleanly away from oozing concepts like ''heroism'' and ''our nation's war on terror'' in the aftermath of recent wounds, here's a drama about the most politically charged crisis of our time that grants the dignity of autonomy to every soul involved.

Variety Brian Lowry
The result is a tense, documentary-style drama that methodically builds a sense of dread despite the preordained outcome.

Washington Post Ann Hornaday
United 93 unfolds with the terrible inevitability of a modern-day "Battle of Algiers," with Greengrass exerting superb control of tone, structure and pace...United 93 may be the best movie I ever hated.

Austin Chronicle Marjorie Baumgarten
Instead of using actors, Greengrass employed many of the actual air traffic controllers and military commanders who were on the ground that day. Also aiding his film's universality is Greengrass' use of little known actors in the central roles, preventing stardom from affecting our ideas about heroism and patriotism.

New York Post Lou Lumenick
It's a long, brutal and honest look at a shattering event some Americans would apparently prefer not to see depicted - but also a respectful, inspiring one that's in no way exploitative or emotionally manipulative.

New York Daily News Jack Mathews
I wouldn't recommend the movie to anyone, but if the families of the victims take something positive from it, as their cooperation with Greengrass suggests they do, that's justification enough.

Boston Globe Ty Burr
The movie is hard going, not least in the sense of powerlessness it leaves in an audience that knows exactly what will happen. And yet you come out feeling that the filmmakers have done the right thing by these people, and by this day.

Miami Herald Rene Rodriguez
There's nothing about United 93 that qualifies as entertainment in the traditional sense: It is an unpleasant, wrenching experience, which is just as it should be.

Chicago Reader Jonathan Rosenbaum
Greengrass takes pains to keep events believable and relatively unrhetorical, rejecting entertainment for the sake of sober reflection, though one has to ask how edifying this is apart from its reduction of the standard myths.

Los Angeles Times Kenneth Turan
Intellectually, we know we should applaud the marvels United 93 has accomplished, and we do. But it is a film envisioned as a monument, a memorial tribute, and in our hearts we want something more. United 93 should have been made now, when memories and passions are still fresh, but it may play better in the future. If we have one.

80 Stephanie Zacharek
It's an expertly made picture that I wish I could stamp out of my mind. What's the value of artistry that sucks the life out of you?

Village Voice Dennis Lim
Best understood as a memorial…Like most memorials, it is respectful, premised on competing obligations to the dead and the living, and eager to stress that the deaths were not in vain. It not only tells us we should never forget but also illustrates how we should remember.

The Onion (A.V. Club) Keith Phipps
We all lived through this not so long ago; it's an odd thing to make a film whose most striking effect is its ability to bring the feelings of Sept. 11 flooding back, then close on a profoundly disturbing note. A crasser film would have been easier to digest and dismiss. It's hard to do either with United 93, and that's either its genius or its folly.

San Francisco Chronicle Mick LaSalle
There's just nothing artful about it, and it's Greengrass who deserves the credit. These nonactors don't act the way most people do when playing themselves. They act the way people do when they're being themselves.

The Globe and Mail (Toronto) Rick Groen
Greengrass's reluctance to unduly demonize the villains or overly sentimentalize the victims is commendable on the surface, but it tends to blur the two sides and to mask the gulf that separates them.

The New York Times Manohla Dargis
Its focus is purposely narrow. But that narrow focus, along with the lack of fully realized characters, and the absence of any historical or political context, raises the question of why, notwithstanding the usual (if shaky) commercial imperative, this particular movie was made.

Slate Dana Stevens
United 93, as grueling as it was to sit through, left me feeling curiously unmoved and even slightly resentful.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Peak Oil Panic
Is the planet running out of gas? If it is, what should the Bush administration do about it?
Ronald Bailey

The Princeton geologist Ken Deffeyes warns that the imminent peak of global oil production will result in “war, famine, pestilence and death.” Deffeyes, author of 2001’s Hubbert’s Peak: The Impending World Oil Shortage and 2005’s Beyond Oil: The View from Hubbert’s Peak, predicted that the peak of global oil production would occur this past Thanksgiving.

Deffeyes isn’t alone. The Houston investment banker Matthew Simmons claims in his 2005 book Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy that the Saudis are lying about the size of their reserves and that they are really running on empty; last September he announced that “we could be looking at $1
0-a-gallon gas this winter.” Colin Campbell, a former petroleum geologist who is now a trustee of the U.K.-based Oil Depletion Analysis Centre, warned way back in 2002 that we were headed for peak oil production, and that this would lead to “war, starvation, economic recession, possibly even the extinction of homo sapiens.” In his 2004 book Out of Gas: The End of the Age of Oil, the Caltech physicist David Goodstein wrote that the peak of world production is imminent and that “we can, all too easily, envision a dying civilization, the landscape littered with the rusting hulks of SUVs.” Jim Motavalli, editor of the environmentalist magazine E, writes in the January/February 2006 issue, “It is impossible to escape the conclusion that we’re steaming full speed ahead into a train wreck of monumental proportions.”

And James Schlesinger, the country’s first secretary of energy, declared in the Winter 2005–06 issue of the neoconservative foreign policy journal The National Interest that “a growing consensus accepts that the peak is not that far off.” He added, “The inability readily to expand the supply of oil, given rising demand, will in the future impose a severe economic shock.”

Even some traditionally calm voices are starting to sound panicky. In March 2005, the New York investment bank Goldman Sachs issued a report suggesting that oil prices would experience a “super spike” in 2006, reaching up to $105 per barrel. ChevronTexaco’s campaign, featuring a series of full-page newspaper ads that urge Americans to conserve energy, flatly declares, “The era of easy oil is over.”

Such forecasts have been bolstered by a steep rise in oil prices over the last three years, going from $18 a barrel in 2002 to $70 last fall. If the price of something goes up, after all, that means it’s becoming scarcer.

The good news is that the peak oil doomsters are probably wrong that world oil production is about to decline forever. Most analysts believe that world petroleum supplies will meet projected demand at reasonable prices for at least another generation. The bad news is that much of the world’s oil reserves are in the custody of unstable and sometimes hostile regimes. But the oil producing nations would be the ultimate losers if they provoked an “oil crisis,” since that would spur industrialized countries to cut back on imports and develop alternative energy technologies.

Apocalypse Yesterday

Predictions of imminent catastrophic depletion are almost as old as the oil industry. An 1855 advertisement for Kier’s Rock Oil, a patent medicine whose key ingredient was petroleum bubbling up from salt wells near Pittsburgh, urged customers to buy soon before “this wonderful product is depleted from Nature’s laboratory.” The ad appeared four years before Pennsylvania’s first oil well was drilled. In 1919 David White of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) predicted that world oil production would peak in nine years. And in 1943 the Standard Oil geologist Wallace Pratt calculated that the world would ultimately produce 600 billion barrels of oil. (In fact, more than 1 trillion barrels of oil had been pumped by 2006.)

During the 1970s, the Club of Rome report The Limits to Growth projected that, assuming consumption remained flat, all known oil reserves would be entirely consumed in just 31 years. With exponential growth in consumption, it added, all the known oil reserves would be consumed in 20 years. These dour predictions gained credibility when the Arab oil crisis of 1973 quadrupled prices from $3 to $12 per barrel (from $16 to $48 in 2006 dollars) and when the Iranian oil crisis more than doubled oil prices from $14 per barrel in 1978 to $35 per barrel by 1981 (from $45 to $98 in 2006 dollars).

In response, the federal government imposed price controls on oil and gas in the 1970s and established fuel economy standards to encourage the sale of more efficient automobiles. The sense of doom did not dissolve. In 1979 Energy Secretary Schlesinger proclaimed, “The energy future is bleak and is likely to grow bleaker in the decade ahead.” The Global 2000 Report to President Carter, issued in 1980, predicted that the price of oil would rise by 50 percent, reaching $100 per barrel by 2000.

Most of today’s petro-doomsters base their forecasts on the work of the geologist M. King Hubbert, who correctly predicted in 1956 that U.S. domestic oil production in the lower 48 states would peak around 1970 and begin to decline. In 1969 Hubbert predicted that world oil production would peak around 2000.

Hubbert argued that oil production grows until half the recoverable resources in a field have been extracted, after which production falls off at the same rate at which it expanded. This theory suggests a bell-shaped curve rising from first discovery to peak and descending to depletion. Hubbert calculated that peak oil production follows peak oil discovery with a time lag. Globally, discoveries of new oil fields peaked in 1962. The time lag between peak global discoveries and peak production was estimated to be around 32 years, but peak oilers claim that the two oil crises of the 1970s reduced consumption and thereby delayed the peak until now. Hubbert’s modern disciples argue that humanity has now used up half of the world’s ultimately recoverable reserves of oil, which means we are at or over the peak.

The prophets of oily doom are opposed by preachers of energy abundance. Chief among the latter is the energy economist Michael Lynch, president of the Massachusetts-based Global Petroleum Service consultancy. “Colin Campbell has the worst forecasting record on oil supply,” says Lynch, “and that’s saying a lot.” He points out that in a 1989 article for the journal Noroil, Campbell claimed the peak of world oil production had already passed and incorrectly predicted that oil would soon cost $30 to $50 a barrel. As for Matthew Simmons, Lynch dismisses him with a sneer: “Petroleum engineers know a lot more about petroleum engineering than a Harvard MBA.”

One petroleum engineer— Michael Economides of the University of Houston—calls peak oil predictions “the figments of the imaginations of born-again pessimist geologists.” Like Lynch, Economides, who worked in Russia to boost that country’s oil production in the last decade, rejects Simmons’ analysis. Saudi Arabia, which currently produces about 10 million barrels of oil a day, “is underproducing every one of their wells,” he claims. “I can produce 20 million barrels of oil in Saudi Arabia.”

The Tank Is Still More Than Half Full

So who’s right? Fortunately, it looks like humanity is at least a generation away from peak oil production. Unfortunately, there could be another “oil crisis” any day now.

The world consumes about 87 million barrels of oil per day, or nearly 30 billion barrels of oil per year. How much oil is left? It’s hard to be sure. Proven oil reserves—i.e., oil that is recoverable under current economic and operating conditions—are estimated to be 1.1 trillion barrels by the industry journal World Oil, 1.2 trillion by the oil company BP, and 1.3 trillion by the Oil and Gas Journal. In March 2005 the private U.K.-based energy consultancy IHS Energy estimated that the world’s remaining recoverable reserves, excluding unconventional sources such as heavy oil or tar sands, are between 1.3 trillion and 2.4 trillion barrels.

But are proven reserves all that’s left? Several analyses put ultimate reserves at much higher levels. For example, the USGS undertook a comprehensive analysis of world oil reserves in 2000. It calculated that the total world endowment of recoverable oil is 3 trillion barrels. (Its figure is higher because it includes estimates for undiscovered resources and projected increases in already producing fields.) In addition, the total world endowment of natural gas is equivalent to 2.6 trillion barrels of oil, plus 330 billion barrels of natural gas liquids such as propane and butane. The USGS figures that the total world endowment of conventional oil resources is equivalent to about 5.9 trillion barrels of oil. Proven reserves of oil, gas, and natural gas liquids are equivalent to 2 trillion barrels of oil. The USGS calculates that humanity has already consumed about 1 trillion barrels of oil equivalent, which means 82 percent of the world’s endowment of oil and gas resources remains to be used.

In its 2005 Energy Outlook, ExxonMobil estimates “global conventional oil resources total 3.2 trillion barrels…with non-conventional ‘frontier’ resources such as heavy oil bringing that total to over 4 trillion barrels.” In November 2005, the International Energy Agency, an organization created in 1974 by 26 industrialized countries to assess global energy issues, released its annual World Energy Outlook report, which accepted the USGS numbers and concluded that “the world’s energy resources are adequate to meet projected growth in energy demand” until at least 2030. The report predicted that oil production would grow from the 2004 level of 82 million barrels a day to 115 million barrels a day and that any “peak” would occur after 2030. It suggested that world oil prices will decline to around $35 per barrel (in 2004 dollars) by 2010 and eventually rise to $39 per barrel by 2030. At the Montreal Climate Change Conference in December, Claude Mandil, head of the International Energy Agency, declared: “We don’t share the tenets of the peak oil theory. We feel that they underestimate technological developments. For many decades to come there is no geological problem.”

Probably the most respected private oil consultancy in the world is Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA) in Boston. On December 7, 2005, CERA senior consultant Robert W. Esser testified at a House Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee hearing on the peak oil theory. “CERA’s belief is that the world is not running out of oil imminently or in the near to medium term,” Esser said. “Indeed, CERA projects that world oil production capacity has the potential to rise from 87 million barrels per day [mbd] in 2005 to as much as 108 mbd by 2015.…We see no evidence to suggest a peak before 2020, nor do we see a transparent and technically sound analysis from another source that justifies belief in an imminent peak.” Instead of a sharp peak followed by a production decline, CERA’s analysts foresee an “undulating plateau” in which global oil production remains more or less steady. “It will be a number of decades into this century before we get to an inflection point that will herald the arrival of the undulating plateau,” said Esser.

Peak oilers discount these rosy scenarios, insisting the relevant fact is that new oil discoveries have been falling during the last couple of decades. But the petroleum optimists, such as the analysts at the USGS, say there is more to it than that. They point out that reserve growth and new discoveries have been outpacing oil consumption. (Reserve growth is the increase in production in already discovered and developed fields.) From 1995 and 2003 the world consumed 236 billion barrels of oil. It also saw reserve growth of 175 billion barrels, combined with 138 billion barrels from new discoveries, added a total of 313 billion barrels to the world’s proven oil reserves. In the U.S., oil field reserves typically turn out to be four to nine times as high as the original estimates. The increase in production is a result of improved recovery technologies, further discoveries in the field, and improved field management.

Consider the Kern River field in California, which was discovered in 1899. In 1942 it was estimated that only 54 million barrels remained to be produced there. During the next 44 years the field produced 736 million barrels and had another 970 million barrels remaining. For geological reasons, petroleum engineers cannot pump every drop of oil out of a reservoir. But by 2004 technological advances enabled them to recover 35 percent of a conventional reservoir’s oil, up from an average of 22 percent in 1980. If this recovery factor can be increased by another five percentage points, that would boost worldwide recoverable reserves by more than all of Saudi Arabia’s current proven reserves. Economides points out that in 1976 the U.S. was estimated to have 23 billion barrels of reserves remaining. In 2005 it still had 23 billion barrels of oil reserves, even though American oil fields produced almost 40 billion barrels of oil between 1976 and 2005.

Matthew Simmons claims to have found that the Saudis are greatly exaggerating the size of their reserves. If true, this is bad news, because the Saudis have more than 30 percent of the world’s reserves and have served as the world’s supplier of last resort for a couple of decades. Simmons argues that the Saudis and others are exaggerating what they have because the supply quotas set by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) were tied to the size of a country’s reserves—the bigger its reserves, the more oil it was permitted to sell. But the desire to boost quotas cannot account for the fact that non-OPEC reserves grew nearly three times faster than OPEC reserves between 1981 and 1996. And whatever incentive OPEC members had to lie about their reserves should have dissipated as the price of oil rose during the last couple of years. Economides notes that the Saudis are investing $100 billion in new production projects, which undercuts the notion that they know they are running out of oil.

At a November meeting of the Council on Foreign Relations, chief International Energy Agency economist Fatih Birol responded to the assertion that Saudi Arabia can’t raise its oil production by outlining a scenario in which he assumed that Saudi oil reserves were 35 percent lower than claimed. Birol noted that experts believe forcing water into reserves to maintain pressure would raise the cost of producing oil by 70 percent at most. In his analysis, Birol assumed it would raise the cost by 300 percent. Considering that it costs about $1.50 to produce a barrel of Saudi crude oil, that means the cost would rise to $6 per barrel. Even with these two assumptions, Birol argues the Saudis could easily produce 18 million barrels of oil per day by 2020, up from the current level of around 10 million.

So if the world has adequate oil supplies for the next generation, can we all go back to driving Hummers? Not so fast.

The Real Oil Crisis

Simmons has been wrong so far: Gasoline does not cost $10 a gallon. Oil prices hovered between $55 and $65 per barrel in late 2005 and early 2006, down from $70 in September 2005. The U.S. Energy Information Administration believes gasoline prices will remain below $3 per gallon in 2006.

What about the future? The International Energy Agency calculates that $3 trillion must be invested in oil production and refining facilities during the next 25 years to meet world demand in 2030. In principle that target could easily be met, since producing 1 trillion barrels at $30 per barrel yields $30 trillion in income over 25 years.

The problem is that the vast majority of the world’s remaining oil reserves are not possessed by private enterprises. Seventy-seven percent of known reserves belong to government-owned companies. That means oil will be produced with all the efficiency associated with central planning. Michael Economides estimates, for example, that it will take $4 billion in investment to keep Venezuela’s oil production at current levels. Yet that country’s Castro-wannabe president, Hugo Chavez, is investing just half that.

If ChevronTexaco, ExxonMobil, or other private companies actually owned the reserves, the world would be in a much more secure position with regard to oil production. Instead, we are subject to the whims of figures like Chavez, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and must worry about the doubtful stability of their personalities and regimes. (To be sure, even a private reserve under such a regime would face the constant threat of nationalization or other interference.) In the mid-1990s, the world had more than 10 million barrels per day of spare production capacity. That figure has fallen to between 1 and 2 million barrels, which means that any significant disruption in supplies can cause prices to soar.

Economides worries that the conventional wisdom that oil-producing countries do not want to cause a global economic recession is wrong. “The danger posed by the axis of energy militants—Venezuela, Iran, and, increasingly, Russia under President Vladimir Putin—is that they could not care less,” he says. “These militants hardly have functioning real economies whose workings would be adversely affected by a recession.” Economides’ views looked prophetic when oil prices jumped to a three-and-half-month high after Iran’s threat in January to retaliate against any United Nations sanctions imposed to curb its nuclear ambitions by cutting its oil exports.

Despite the recent jump in oil prices, the world’s economy has not slowed down. Why not? Goldman Sachs notes that oil is less important than it was a generation ago. At the height of the Iranian oil crisis in 1980–81, paying for gasoline took up 4.5 percent of U.S. GDP and 7.2 percent of U.S. consumer expenditures. In 2005, even though U.S. gas prices peaked at $3.07 per gallon after Hurricane Katrina, only 2.6 percent of GDP went to pay for gas and consumers spent only 3.7 percent of their incomes to fuel their cars and SUVs. Goldman Sachs believes gasoline prices would need to exceed $4 per gallon before consumers really started to cut back.

As the oil crisis of the 1970s demonstrated, while the demand for oil is inelastic in the short run, consumers do eventually adjust to higher prices. U.S. oil consumption declined by 13 percent between 1973 and 1983. According to Frederick Cedoz, vice president of the D.C.-based energy and political risk consulting group Global Water and Energy Strategy Team, “We get three times more GDP out of a barrel of oil than we did in the 1970s.”

The higher prices of the 1970s led eventually to an oil glut and prices below $10 a barrel by 1986. Should one or more of the “energy militants” choose to deploy the “oil weapon” again, they will cause considerable economic pain to the developed countries. But detonating the oil weapon would end up disarming the energy militants for a generation, after consumer cutbacks produce a new glut.

Oil War Hawks

Unfortunately, you don’t have to go to Iran, Russia, or Venezuela to find energy militants. We have some homegrown ones right here in America, and they think the world is already in the opening stages of a global energy war. Last July, the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., assembled some of the scariest American oil war hawks for a program called “The Coming Energy Wars: A 21st Century Time Bomb?”

All the participants apparently accept the idea that world oil supplies are about to decline, and they all share a zero-sum view of natural resources. According to the Heritage panelists, the chief villain in the coming energy wars is China. Referring to China as the “Thirsty Dragon,” Cedoz warned, “China wants to lock up supplies at the wellhead with long-term purchase contracts.” He darkly pointed to Chinese negotiations over oil supplies in Sudan, Ecuador, and Colombia. (Actually, if the Chinese sign up for long-term contracts, that would encourage producers to invest more in production. That would benefit all consumers, not just the Chinese.)

Refurbished cold warrior Frank Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy, opposed the $18.5 billion bid by the China National Offshore Oil Corporation for the California-based oil company Unocal last year. “It’s a very ill-advised transaction,” said Gaffney. “It’s not in our interests to turn over more of our finite resources to others. They should be taken off the market.” Our finite resources? Seventy percent of Unocal’s reserves and production are located in East Asia and the Caspian Sea region.

The Chinese company withdrew its bid after a number of congressmen promised to outlaw the sale. But Gaffney isn’t breathing easier. China’s oil grab, he announced, “is only part of a larger plan to deny us strategic minerals, strategic choke points, and strategic regions. Their purpose is to deny the U.S. a dominant role in the world and if necessary to defeat us.”

Ilan Berman, vice president for policy at the American Foreign Policy Council, regretted that “energy is not viewed through a national security prism. We should be competing to lock up supplies and diversifying and exploring new technologies.” Berman argued that as resources become scarcer there is no way to avoid a zero-sum game. “We have to approach this through the lens of the haves and have-nots,” he declared.

One dissenting voice at the Heritage Foundation session was Harvey Feldman, a former ambassador to Papua New Guinea and an East Asian specialist. “Berman is suggesting that we change from a paradigm of relying on the market,” said Feldman. “OK, we’re going to be in competition with the British, Japanese, French, Germans, Indians, and everybody else. Is this really in the interest of the United States?” Given that most of the experts in the oil business don’t think the world is about to run out of oil, this is one time to hope that President Bush is listening to his buddies in the oil industry.

Instead of preparing for an energy war, the best policy is to let markets have free rein. Even if, say, the Iranians make the political decision to disrupt the flow of oil to world markets, those markets left to themselves will eventually discipline them. The temporarily higher prices will encourage more exploration and technological advances, which will bring energy prices back down. On the day of his inauguration in 1981, President Ronald Reagan lifted oil price controls. Five years later oil prices fell below $10 a barrel.

One day, the oil age will end. As with all resources, there is ultimately a finite supply of oil. So it is not yet clear how the world will power itself for the bulk of the coming century. But we have at least another three decades to find alternatives to petroleum. “Trusting markets is the only way we can assure energy abundance in the future,” notes the University of Houston’s Economides. “It’s also the only way that we will ever transition to something other than oil and gas.”

Hitler y Castro asesoran al gobierno de Kirchner en materia de precios

por Gustavo Lazzari
Gustavo Lazzari es Director de Políticas Públicas de la Fundación Atlas. Se desempeña como Profesor de la Universidad de Buenos Aires (Facultad de Derecho) y como Profesor en la Escuela Superior de Economía y Administración de Empresas..

El gobierno está aumentando la dosis de intervención en materia de control de precios de la carne. Cada semana se acentúa la presión del gobierno para lograr que la carne baje de precio.

El mecanismo utilizado es erróneo, el blanco es el equivocado y las consecuencias serán gravosas.

En el mejor de los casos, solo podrá bajar el precio del kilo de lomo que se consume en los barrios más acomodados de la ciudad (de pasó allí viven los mas entusiastas seguidores del modelo K).

El gobierno apela a la supuesta rudeza de sus funcionarios para atemorizar a empresarios. El Diario Perfil y Página 12 han publicado que el Secretario Guillermo Moreno ha mostrado un arma en una reunión con empresarios y además suele mostrar los genitales como señal de presunta fortaleza.

En el juego de naipes más popular de los argentinos la carta menos valiosa es el “cuatro de copas”. Uno puede engañar a su rival una, dos o tres veces teniendo un cuatro de copas pero simulando que se posee una carta de mayor valor.

Sin embargo, no puede jugar todas las manos con un cuatro de copas.

El secretario Moreno sabe (o debería saber) que frente a un mercado sobredemandado (como es el de la carne) tiene en sus manos un cuatro de copas. Y por más que “apriete”, “amenace”, “se tome los genitales” o muestre algún “fierro”, el precio de la carne se le va a disparar. La demanda es mayor que la oferta. Y el gobierno, apuesta a que los empresarios se asusten, la rentabilidad disminuya y por tanto, la oferta se desintegre.

Los nazis quisieron controlar el precio de la carne y no pudieron. El 26 de noviembre de 1936 establecieron un control de precios que fijaba los precios (entre ellos la carne) al 17 de octubre de dicho año. La coincidencia con la día peronista es solo casual. Tiempo después, el jerarca nazi responsable del planeamiento económico Herman Goering, siendo prisionero confesó que: “Si intentan controlar precios y jornales, es decir el trabajo del pueblo, deberán controlar la vida de las personas y ningún país puede intentarlo a medias. Yo lo hice y fracasé. Asimismo, una nación tampoco puede imponer un control absoluto. Y lo intenté y también fracasé”.

Los soviéticos vieron fracasar el más cruel sistema de control de precios, vidas y personas. Para mitigar las nefastas consecuencias del control en términos de desabastecimiento y hambrunas, los soviéticos popularizaron una adivinanza. “¿qué cosa mide cincuenta metros de largo y come papas?. Respuesta: el pueblo ruso haciendo la cola para comprar carne.”

El amigo (del gobierno) Castro cuando comenzó su mandato había una vaca por cada cubano. En la isla se comía carne todas las semanas. Hoy hay 1/3 de vaca por cubano y solo se vende en las tiendas dolarizadas para turistas. Los cubanos solo acceden a la carne dos veces por año en las cartillas de racionamiento.

El gobierno pretende reeditar la ley de abastecimiento. (Nro 20.680) Una ley utilizada sin éxito por el gobierno militar y por el hiperinflacionario período de Alfonsín.

La ley de abastecimiento en Argentina se fundamenta en lo más oscuro de las iniciativas soviéticas, nazis y castristas. Presupone el mismo nivel de autoritarismo y arbitrariedad. Es absolutamente incompatible con la democracia. De hecho, ningún gobierno que respeta los derechos humanos la ha utilizado.

En su articulado, la ley 20.680 propone:

* Establecer, para cualquier etapa del proceso económico, precios máximos, congelamiento y/o márgenes de utilidad
* Fijar precios mínimos y/o de sostén y/o de fomento;
* Dictar normas que rijan la comercialización, intermediación, distribución y/o producción;
* Obligar a continuar con la producción, industrialización, comercialización, distribución o prestación de servicios,
* Prohibir o restringir la exportación cuando lo requieran las necesidades del país;
* Intervenir temporariamente, para su uso, explotaciones agropecuarias, forestales, mineras, pesqueras; establecimientos industriales, comerciales y empresas de transporte;
* Faculta al Poder Ejecutivo a fijar multas dinerarias, arresto hasta 90 días, clausuras, inhabilitaciones, comiso de mercaderías, hasta publicación de la sentencia condenatoria a costa del infractor, etc.

Es imperioso que el gobierno racionalice su discurso. El combate de la carne será gravoso. La patria ganadera lo seguirá siendo. Pero los emprendedores individuales se asustarán y sembrarán soja, trigo o cordero patagónicos. El precio de la carne subirá inexorablemente, y no habrá mas medidas que tomar. Genitales y armas no seducen ninguna oferta.

Kirchner: La política del carterista

por Roberto Cachanosky

Los supermercadistas nos quieren extorsionar, los ganaderos son avaros, los franceses no nos quieren dar agua potable, el Fondo Monetario Internacional (FMI) es el demonio, los militares son todos asesinos, los economistas liberales estamos comprados, los uruguayos nos quieren contaminar, los consignatarios de ganado son pícaros, la Iglesia Católica apoya la represión.

Si Kirchner sigue a este ritmo de denuncias de supuestos enemigos de la patria, vamos a llegar a la conclusión de que el único bueno y bien intencionado en la Argentina es él. Por el discurso del presidente, pareciera ser que él tiene el monopolio de la bondad, el patriotismo y la preocupación por los pobres. Eso sí, si continúa inventando enemigos a esta velocidad, pronto se va a quedar sin sector, persona, país u organismo internacional a quien acusar de todos los males que padece la Argentina.

Es probable que a la gente le guste escuchar sus diatribas. No lo sé. Pero, en todo caso, este despliegue de descalificaciones hacia cualquiera que no piense como él o actúe en contra de sus intereses políticos puede ser una manera de generar en la población una especie de desahogo frente a tanta frustración. En definitiva, lo que se intentaría es incentivar el resentimiento y la confrontación social para liberarnos de la culpa que tenemos de tanta decadencia. Frente a la incapacidad para construir un país, siempre es bueno tratar de echarle la culpa a algún enemigo imaginario para excusarnos de los lamentables resultados que estamos teniendo.

En realidad, es justo reconocer que Kirchner mostró desde el inicio de su mandato esa inclinación por la arbitrariedad de sus actos y la agresividad en sus palabras. Sin embargo, siempre cabía la esperanza de que fuera moderando su comportamiento y su discurso a medida que avanzaba en su presidencia. Pero, ocurrió lo contrario: el grado de agresividad aumenta a medida que van pasando los meses y cabe esperar que esa agresividad siga en aumento en la medida en que la economía se le complique y el conflicto social crezca.

El tema de la carne deja en evidencia lo previsible del comportamiento de Kirchner. Cuando el presidente dice que los productores son unos avaros porque pretenden vender la carne en el mercado interno a precio internacional, no está haciendo más que confirmar que su política económica se basa en salarios bajos. Dicho de otra manera, no es que la carne sea cara, es que los salarios son bajos, y son bajos porque son parte del corazón de la política económica del gobierno. Es esa política de redistribución regresiva del ingreso lo que hace que la carne parezca cara para el consumidor argentino. Pero, claro, es obvio que Kirchner no va a utilizar el atril para decir que la gente no puede comprar carne porque su modelo económico necesita salarios bajos. Hace lo que es previsible en estos casos. Acusa a los productores ganaderos de avaros, enfrenta a la sociedad y él aparece como el defensor del bolsillo de la población.

Al igual que el carterista de los colectivos, Kirchner tiene que generar algún tipo de distracción en la víctima para poder meterle la mano en el bolsillo sin que ésta se de cuenta. ¿Qué hace el carterista? Le clava el codo en la espalda a su víctima y, mientras la persona está distraída viendo por qué le clavan el codo, el carterista sigilosamente le mete la mano en el bolsillo. Es la presión que siente la víctima sobre su espalda lo que no le permite darse cuenta del robo que está sufriendo El carterista trata de robar sin que su víctima se dé cuenta de que lo está robando. Aquí se usa la misma táctica. Mientras se despotrica contra los productores ganaderos, el Banco Central le mete la mano en el bolsillo a la gente aplicándole el impuesto inflacionario. Gritar contra los productores ganaderos, los supermercadistas, los uruguayos y el FMI es la forma de generar la distracción necesaria para que la gente no advierta que el que le está sacando la plata es otro. El carterista le clava el codo a la víctima para distraerla.

Kirchner ha aprovechado tres elementos que jugaron a su favor. En primer lugar, cuando asumió la presidencia tuvo la suerte de tener una de las tasas de interés internacionales más bajas en décadas. Este elemento ya no existe porque EE.UU. viene levantando la tasa y continuará en esa dirección. El segundo factor es que se encontró con un muy buen precio de la soja en el mercado internacional, situación que lo ayudó a generar ingresos fiscales mediante las retenciones que heredó de su inventor Duhalde. Y, en tercer lugar, financia su populismo consumiendo el stock de capital generado a partir de las privatizaciones de los 90.

¿Qué le está jugando en contra? Dos cosas, fundamentalmente. En primer lugar, la demanda por moneda ya no crece y, por lo tanto, su política de fuerte emisión monetaria para sostener artificialmente alto el tipo de cambio le aumentó la tasa de inflación hasta niveles que lo complican políticamente. Como este problema no lo puede resolver porque es parte de la inconsistencia de su modelo, es de esperar dos cosas: a) que la tasa de interés interna suba como ya lo viene haciendo, complicándole la reactivación y b) que aumente el grado de agresividad en materia de control de precios.

La segunda cuestión que le juega en contra es que su modelo económico no contempla la inversión como motor del crecimiento. Kirchner cree que el consumo puede crecer sin que aumente la producción. Para Kirchner la riqueza existe. Sólo hay que redistribuirla. Saturada la utilización de la capacidad instalada de producción heredada de los 90 y sin más demanda por mayores saldos monetarios, Kirchner nos lleva de cabeza a una feroz puja por la distribución del ingreso en un contexto inflacionario. Tan feroz como la que vimos la semana pasada cuando pobres pelearon contra pobres en Neuquén.

Durante el último gobierno militar, un general enojado porque la tasa de interés subía, golpeó sobre la mesa y ordenó que la tasa bajara. El general creía que las tasas de interés podían bajarse a punta de bayoneta. Al igual que ese general, Kirchner cree que golpeando su puño contra el atril puede ordenar que la inflación baje mientras el Banco Central emite a marcha forzada. ¡Curiosas coincidencias de la vida!

Kirchner no puede terminar de entender que la riqueza no surge de los gritos, amenazas y movilizaciones. La riqueza se genera a partir del trabajo libre y la inversión. Y para eso se necesita un marco jurídico estable, con reglas eficientes que incentiven la oferta. Eso que hoy se llama clima de negocios.

Lamentablemente, en vez de crear un adecuado clima de negocios, Kirchner se esfuerza en crear un clima de miedo y agresividad. Esa estrategia podrá serle muy útil al momento de doblegar a sus adversarios en la interna del Partido Justicialista y domesticar a gobernadores e intendentes, pero no sirve para generar riqueza.

Mientras tanto, seguiremos soportando la política del carterista, hasta que alguien en el colectivo se de cuenta y grite: ¡carterista, carterista!

¿Podrá el carterista bajarse a tiempo del colectivo?

Woody's Soundtracks

Various Artists

1. Frenesi - Artie Shaw & His Orchestra
2. Stardust - Louis Armstrong & His Orchestra
3. Big Noise from Winnetka
4. Whispering - Benny Goodman Quartet
5. Take the 'A' Train - Duke Ellington & His Orchestra
6. If You Are But a Dream - Frank Sinatra
7. I'm Getting Sentimental Over You
8. Cheek to Cheek - Fred Astaire
9. Tickle Toe
10. I've Heard That Song Before - Harry James & His Orchestra
11. After You've Gone - Joe Venuti
12. Body and Soul
13. Did I Remember? - Billie Holiday & Her Orchestra
14. In the Mood
15. You Made Me Love You (I Didn't Want to Do It) - Harry James & His Orchestra
16. White Cliffs of Dover (There'll Be Blue Birds Over)
17. If Dreams Come True - Chick Webb & His Orchestra
18. Lullaby of Broadway - Richard Himber & His Orchestra
19. Sing, Sing, Sing - Benny Goodman & His Orchestra
20. Goodbye - Benny Goodman & His Orchestra

Various Artists

1. Stardust
2. Body & Soul
3. Tickle-Toe
4. Palesteena
5. Tropical Mood Meringue
6. Moonlight Serenade
7. I'll See You In My Dreams
8. Three Little Words
9. If Dreams Come True
10. Fantasy


1. Kleine Dreigroschenmusik, suite for wind orchestra (based on "Die Dreigroschenoper") Canon Song (used in the Movie "Shadows and Fog")
Composed by Kurt Weill
Performed by London Symphony Orchestra [members of]
Conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas

2. Kleine Dreigroschenmusik, suite for wind orchestra (based on "Die Dreigroschenoper") The Ballad of Mack the Knife (used in the Movie "Shadows and Fog")
Composed by Kurt Weill
Performed by London Symphony Orchestra [members of]
Conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas

3. String Quartet No. 15 in G major, D. 887 (Op. posth. 161) First Movement, allegro molto moderato (as used in the movie "Crimes and Misdemeanors")
Composed by Franz Schubert
with Robert Mann, Earl Carlyss, Juilliard Quartet, Joel Krosnick, Samuel Rhodes
Conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas

4. Gymnopedie for piano No.3, for piano No 3, as used in the movie "Another Woman"
Composed by Erik Satie
Performed by Claude Debussy / Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Conducted by Philippe Entremont

5. Suite for solo cello No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1008 Fourth Movement: Allegro (used in the movie "Another Woman")
Composed by Johann Sebastian Bach
with Kenneth Cooper, Yo-Yo Ma
Conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas

6. Harpsichord Concerto No. 5 in F minor (or for oboe or violin in G minor) BWV 1056 Largo
Composed by Johann Sebastian Bach
with Igor Kipnis, London Strings, Colin Tilney
Conducted by Neville Marriner

7. Manon Lescaut, opera Act 4: Sola, perduta, abbandonata (used in the movie "Hannah and Her Sisters")
Composed by Daniel-Francois-Esprit Auber
Performed by London Symphony Orchestra with Renata Scotto
Conducted by Gianandrea Gavazzeni

8. A Midsummer Night's Dream, incidental music, Op. 61 No 1, Scherzo (used in the movie "A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy")
Composed by Felix Mendelssohn
Performed by Cleveland Orchestra
Conducted by George Szell

9. A Midsummer Night's Dream, incidental music, Op. 61 Intermezzo (used in the movie "A Midsummer Night's Sex Comdey")
Composed by Felix Mendelssohn
Performed by Cleveland Orchestra
Conducted by George Szell
10. Symphony No. 3 in A minor ("Scottish"), Op. 56 No 2, Vivace non troppo (used in the movie "A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy")
Composed by Felix Mendelssohn
Performed by Bavarian Radio Orchestra
Conducted by Sir Andrew Davis

11. Rhapsody in Blue for piano & jazz band (orchestrated by F. Grofe) As used in the movie "Manhattan"
Composed by George Gershwin
Performed by Ferde Grofe / New York Philharmonic with Gary Graffman
Conducted by Zubin Mehta

12. Lieutenant Kijé, film score and suite for orchestra, Op. 60 Part 4, Troika (used in the movie "Love and Death")
Composed by Sergey Prokofiev
Performed by Cleveland Orchestra
Conducted by George Szell

13. Lieutenant Kijé, film score and suite for orchestra, Op. 60 Part 3: Kijé's Wedding (used in the movie "Love and Death")
Composed by Sergey Prokofiev
Performed by Cleveland Orchestra
Conducted by George Szell

14. Alexander Nevsky, cantata for mezzo-soprano, chorus, & orchestra, Op. 78 Song about Alexander Nevsky (used in the movie "Love and Death")
Composed by Sergey Prokofiev
Performed by New York Philharmonic with Sergey Prokofiev, Vladimir Lugovski
Conducted by Thomas Schippers

15. The Love for Three Oranges, suite for orchestra, Op. 33 bis No 3, Marche (used in the movie "Love and Death")
Composed by Sergey Prokofiev
Performed by Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra
Conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas

EVERYONE SAYS I LOVE YOU: Original Soundtrack Recording [SOUNDTRACK]

1. Just You, Just Me - Helen Miles Singers
2. My Baby Just Cares for Me - Natasha Lyonne
3. Recurrence/I'm a Dreamer [Instrumental] - Olivia Hayman
4. Makin' Whoopee - Timothy Jerome
5. Venetian Scenes/I'm Thru With Love - Woody Allen
6. All My Life - Julia Roberts
7. Just You, Just Me [Salsa Version]
8. Cuddle up a Little Closer - Billy Crudup
9. Looking at You - Alan Alda
10. Recurrence/If I Had You [Instrumental] - Tim Roth
11. Enjoy Yourself (It's Later Than You Think) - Patrick Crenshaw
12. Chiquita Banana - Christy Carlson Romano
13. Hooray for Captain Spaulding/Vive le Capitaine Spaulding - Helen Miles Singers
14. I'm Thru With Love - Goldie Hawn
15. Everyone Says I Love You - Helen Miles Singers

RADIO DAYS: Selections From The Original Soundtrack Of The Motion Picture [SOUNDTRACK]
Various Artists - Soundtracks - 1987

1. In the Mood - Glenn Miller & His Orchestra
2. I Double Dare You - Larry Clinton & His Orchestra
3. Opus One - Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra
4. Frenesi - Artie Shaw & His Orchestra
5. Donkey Serenade - Allan Jones
6. Body and Soul - Benny Goodman
7. You and I - Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra
8. Remember Pearl Harbor - Sammy Kaye
9. That Old Feeling - Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians
10. (There'll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover - Glenn Miller & His Orchestra
11. Goodbye - Benny Goodman & His Orchestra
12. I'm Getting Sentimental over You - Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra
13. Lullaby of Broadway - Richard Himber & His Orchestra
14. American Patrol - Glenn Miller & His Orchestra
15. Take the "A" Train - Duke Ellington & His Orchestra
16. One, Two, Three, Kick - Xavier Cugat & His Orchestra

George & Ira Gershwin

1. Rhapsody in Blue - Gary Graffman
2. Land of the Gay Caballero
3. Someone to Watch over Me
4. I've Got a Crush on You
5. Do, Do, Do
6. Mine
7. He Loves and She Loves
8. Bronco Busters
9. Oh, Lady Be Good
10. 'S Wonderful
11. Love Is Here to Stay
12. Sweet and Low-Down
13. Blue, Blue, Blue
14. Embraceable You
15. He Loves and She Loves
16. Love Is Sweeping the Country/Land of the Gay Caballero
17. Strike up the Band
18. But Not for Me

Woody Allen

1. Hear Me Talkin' to Ya? - Woody Allen
2. Lonesome Blues - Woody Allen Trio
3. Dippermouth Blues - Woody Allen
4. After You've Gone - Woody Allen Trio
5. Martha [a.k.a. Mazie] - Woody Allen Trio
6. Lead Me Savior - Woody Allen Trio
7. Swing Lullaby - Woody Allen
8. Last Night on the Back Porch - Woody Allen Trio
9. Shake That Thing - Woody Allen Trio
10. Yaaka Hula Hickey Dula - Woody Allen
11. In the Evening (When the Sun Goes Down) - Woody Allen Trio
12. Come on and Stomp, Stomp, Stomp - Woody Allen Trio
13. Wild Man Blues - Woody Allen
14. Tie Me to Your Apron Strings Again - Woody Allen
15. Pappy's B Flat Blues - Woody Allen

Woody Allen

1. I'll See You In My Dreams - Dick Hyman Group/Howard Alden
2. Caravan - Bunny Berigan & His Orchestra
3. Sweet Georgia Brown - Dick Hyman Group/Howard Alden
4. Unfaithful Woman - Dick Hyman Group/Howard Alden
5. Viper Mad - Sidney Bechet And Noble Sissle's Swingsters
6. Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams (And Dream Your Troubles Away) - Dick Hyman Group/Howard Alden
7. Old-Fashioned Love - Dick Hyman Group/Howard Alden
8. Limehouse Blues/Mystery Pacific - Dick Hyman Group/Howard Alden
9. Just A Gigolo - Dick Hyman Group/Howard Alden
10. 3:00 A.M. Blues - Dick Hyman Group/Howard Alden
11. All Of Me/The Peanut Vendor - Dick Hyman Group/Howard Alden
12. It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing) - Dick Hyman Group/Howard Alden
13. Shine - Dick Hyman Group/Howard Alden
14. I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles - Dick Hyman Group/Howard Alden
15. There'll Be Some Changes Made - Dick Hyman Group/Howard Alden

Howard Alden
Kelly Friesen
Joel Helleny
Dick Hyman
Ken Peplowski
Bucky Pizzarelli
Teddy Sommer
Byron Stripling
Carol Woods

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Of milk and silk
Burrata, the dreamy, creamy cousin of mozzarella, may have roots in Italy, but its home is in L.A.
By Russ Parsons
Times Staff Writer

April 26, 2006

IF this world were fair and just, somewhere in Los Angeles there would be a statue of Vito Girardi. I can see it now: made of marble, perhaps, but certainly of heroic size. He would stand erect, with one arm outstretched, holding aloft a plate. On the plate there would sit one perfect round ball. On the statue's base there would be a one-word legend: "BURRATA."

You have probably never heard of Girardi, but you may have swooned over his cheese. He is the man who introduced America to burrata, and particularly at this time of year as the weather grows warmer (and tomato season draws nearer), my thoughts inevitably turn to Vito and his cheese.

Essentially, burrata is nothing more than mozzarella stuffed with mozzarella — the outer skin is the same pasta filata curd, and the filling is a rough mix of unfinished curd and heavy cream. But that nuts-and-bolts description doesn't begin to do the cheese justice. Burrata is to mozzarella as foie gras is to chicken liver.

I had my first burrata of the season the other day. I'd visited Girardi at his small plant in South El Monte and had picked up a ball that had just been made. I took it home and sliced it into quarters — it weighed a full pound, so I wanted to be able to store what was left over. I drizzled a thread of golden olive oil on top, then sprinkled it with coarse salt and gave it a good grinding of black pepper.

As I cut the ball in quarters, the soft heart began to spill from the firmer outer wrapping. I took a bite. The first thing you notice is the texture — silky on the outside and just a little chewy; creamy on the inside, but with an appealing coarseness, like some amped-up, super-rich ricotta.

The flavor is about as complex as fresh milk can get: at once sweet and earthy with a slightly sour yogurty backbone and elusive hints of flowers and grass that linger on the palate.

Combined with the slight bitterness of the oil, the tang of the salt and the perfumed heat of the pepper, this was about as complex and delicious as anything I ever hope to taste.

Suddenly I realized that the happy humming sound I was hearing was me, and that I had polished off the entire 1-pound ball by myself. That's when I began to think about a statue.


Keeping bakers' hours

TALL and trim, Girardi is more than a little laconic in conversation — or maybe he's just tired. Cheese makers keep hours like bakers, not bankers. Girardi, who is elegantly silver despite just having turned 49, reports for work in the early afternoon and regularly stays through the early morning. Even while he's talking, Girardi keeps glancing across his desk at a security monitor split into dozens of views of the factory, keeping his eye on every step.

When asked how his burrata differs from that in Italy, he shakes his head and confesses he no longer knows. He hasn't been back to Italy since he started making the cheese. In fact, he hasn't taken any time off since he started the company 13 years ago. "I haven't taken one day of vacation yet," he says. "I'm here every day. When we make cheese, I'm here."

Gioia Cheese Co. is in a slightly scruffy, light industrial neighborhood near where the 60 Freeway meets the 605. Around the corner there's a warehouse with signage in Arabic and Chinese scripts advertising "Italian furniture." Indeed, Gioia shares its building with a furniture manufacturer.

Here, several cheeses are made in addition to burrata — Gioia's ricotta is especially good, as is its mozzarella and mascarpone. The cheese-making room is spotless: ceramic-tiled and constantly wet from repeated washings. You put on booties and a hairnet before you enter, and rubber gloves before you touch anything.

Every piece of burrata that Gioia makes — all 1,500 pounds a day — is formed by hand. The process seems simple. Grab a handful of hot mozzarella curd out of its salt-water bath. It's still a little shaggy at this point, like unkneaded bread dough. As quickly and gently as possible, massage it into a smooth ball and then flatten it into a disc.

Grab a handful of filling. This is so moist it practically oozes cream and it is even rougher than the mozzarella dough (the Italians call it stracciatelle, which means "rags").

Put the filling in the center of the disc and quickly begin to stretch the mozzarella around it, much as you would stretch a pizza dough. When the skin is big enough to completely cover the filling, spin the top to tie it in a knot, almost like you'd seal a balloon. Finally, tear off the top knot, leaving a smooth ball.

It sounds simple, but the whole thing must be accomplished very gently and very quickly. Mozzarella dough is temperamental, and rough or prolonged handling turns it tough. From beginning to end, it should take less than 10 seconds to form a ball of burrata. And, of course, you get one shot to get it right.

Though the cheese is now so popular that it seems nearly ubiquitous in Southern California restaurants, its very existence in this country is really a happy accident. As with so many good things from Italy that we now know well — great olive oil, real aceto balsamico, white truffles — in large part we can thank Valentino's Piero Selvaggio and the late Mauro Vincenti from Rex il Ristorante for our introduction to burrata.

It started on a food-scouting trip the two made to Italy. "We were kind of picking on different things and asking ourselves what else is there that is wonderful that is not being imported into the United States," Selvaggio remembers. "At that time we were going a little crazy trying to find the best buffalo mozzarella.

"So we were in Apulia trying different cheeses and we tasted burrata. When we tasted it, we fell in love with it like everybody else. But there was no way to bring it in because it needed to be eaten so quickly."

Girardi had just opened Gioia and was starting to make mozzarella and ricotta (he had tried coming to California in the 1970s, and then again in the early 1980s, but found "no one knew about fresh mozzarella," so both times he went back to Italy).


All in the family

ONE day in 1993 he called on Valentino. "He came to me, trying to push his little mozzarella," Selvaggio says. "Casually I said, 'Have you heard of this burrata?' His eyes lit up."

It just so happened that Girardi is from the very area of Apulia where burrata comes from, and furthermore, he is a third-generation cheese maker whose grandfather had been one of the first makers of burrata.

"It was very exciting," says Selvaggio. "He tried [making] it a few times and then brought me some. I knew right away it was unique. I'm in love with it because it is halfway between mozzarella, which I'm crazy about, and ricotta, which I'm also crazy about. It's the embrace of the two."

Almost as soon as Selvaggio put it on the menu, burrata became a hot topic around town. "I remember Nancy Silverton calling me and asking me, 'Where did you get that cheese? How can I get that cheese?' " he recalls.

For several years, Girardi was the only one producing burrata, but in 1996, another California cheese company, Cantaré Foods in San Diego, started making it. Still, that seems to be it for the United States.

Ironically, though burrata is beloved in California, on its home soil it is still something of a regional rarity. Not only is it specific to Apulia, but it is only made in the area around Bari, and even more specifically, the little towns from Andria to Martina Franca, including Gioia del Colle (where Girardi's family is from, hence the name of his company). If Girardi had been born 100 miles away, say in Foggia, most of us might never have tasted burrata.

Also surprisingly, for something so elementally pleasing, it is not a centuries-old tradition, but a modern invention. According to an Italian guide to Apulian gastronomy, burrata was invented in the 1920s by Lorenzo Bianchino Chieppa, who was working on an estate called Piana Padula near the Castel del Monte. Loosely translated, the guide says, "[He] had the idea to create a kind of flask of cheese for preserving a mixture of cream and cheese in the center."

It goes on to say that at first the flask was created by workers vigorously blowing into a ball of soft mozzarella to inflate it "as you would blow up a balloon." Later, the guide notes, "the family Chieppa perfected a compressor that would create a gentle constant pressure that would create the same effect but guarantee superior hygiene." (Girardi visibly blanches when these antique methods are mentioned.)

Even today in Italy, burrata is rarely found outside of Apulia, though it is beginning to become popular in fashionable cheese stores in metropolitan areas such as Rome, Florence, Bologna and Milan (perhaps, in part, thanks to its overwhelming popularity here?).

Girardi says that when he was working at his family's cheese factory in Gioia del Colle, they would make only 10 to 15 pounds of it a week, but adds, "Here, everyone loves burrata."

As with any food so remarkable, the best way to enjoy burrata is the simplest — olive oil, salt and pepper (and even those are optional). Girardi says he eats it as a "secondo" or main course, "after the pasta, just like a steak."

Of course, there are other things you can do with it as well. But, in any case, fresh burrata should be served raw — cooking would spoil its delicate texture and flavor. It should also be served at cool room temperature. If it is too cold, the cream in the filling becomes firm and you lose that vital unctuousness.


Keep it simple

THE most popular way to serve burrata is as a replacement for the mozzarella in a tomato salad. This is the only way most people are familiar with it and, particularly beginning in late July, when tomatoes start to get really good, it is wonderful.

Until then, though, burrata makes a great complement to other kinds of salads, both of greens and vegetables. Serve a piece of burrata in a nest of arugula dressed with olive oil and lemon juice. Or make it the centerpiece of a stunning arrangement of sliced beets dressed with blood orange vinaigrette, as Gino Angelini does at Angelini Osteria.

When I've had my fill of burrata by itself, I like to serve it on bruschetta, complemented by a dab of tart-sweet radicchio marmalade. A dusting of black pepper bridges the sweetness of the cheese and the slight bitterness of the marmalade.

Selvaggio also pairs it with beets, but likes to serve it as a bruschetta too, with black olive paste, like tapenade, and some kind of cured pork: "Prosciutto, pancetta, lardo, they're all good," he says.

At the other end of the luxury spectrum, Selvaggio says one of his favorite ways to eat burrata is liberally spiked with very good caviar. "That is better than any other condiment you can ever think of, and the better the caviar, the better the burrata."

Burrata is highly perishable — it is really at its best within two or three days of being made. When it gets a little past that, the flavor is not as complex or delicate, and then chefs do cook with it. Angelini purées burrata and uses it to accompany a rich meat ragù on fresh tagliatelle.

At Valentino, they take it a little further, blending burrata with some Parmigiano-Reggiano and using it to stuff tortellini, which are then served with two purées: one of green fava beans, another of golden tomatoes.

But ask Girardi about dishes like these and he just shakes his head. "Those are the fantasies of the chefs," he says, sounding like a meat and potatoes man, or at least the Apulian version of one. "I just make the burrata."



Tracking down fresh burrata

Burrata is available at several markets around town, but because it is a highly perishable product with a short shelf life, made in relatively small quantities by only two producers, it often goes out of stock. Look for Gioia's burrata at Bristol Farms stores; Wally's Wine & Spirits in Los Angeles, (310) 475-0606; Bay Cities Italian Deli in Santa Monica, (310) 395-8279 and other small markets. Cantaré Food's burrata is carried at Whole Foods markets and at Tutto Latte Express in Hollywood, (323) 463-1879. Both usually sell for about $10 a pound.

— Russ Parsons


Angelini beet salad

Total time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Servings: 4

Note: Adapted from a recipe by chef Gino Angelini at Angelini Osteria.

4 medium red beets (about 1 1/2 pounds)

1/4 cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

6 tablespoons best quality olive oil

3 cups baby salad greens

12 ounces burrata

4 teaspoons chopped chives

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Wrap the beets in aluminum foil and bake them for one hour. Unwrap them, cool slightly and peel. Slice the beets thin on a mandoline. Place them in a medium bowl and set aside.

2. To make the dressing, pour the blood orange juice into a small bowl, add the salt and pepper and whisk. Slowly whisk in the olive oil in a stream.

3. Dress the beets with 1 to 2 tablespoons of the dressing; toss gently to combine.

4. In a large bowl, toss the baby greens with 1 to 2 tablespoons of dressing.

5. Divide the beets into four portions. Make several small piles of beets on each of four plates. Top each pile of beets with one-fourth of the salad greens. Divide the burrata into 4 portions, cutting it in half or quarters as necessary. Place one portion atop each salad.

Each serving: 485 calories; 18 grams protein; 16 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams fiber; 39 grams fat; 15 grams saturated fat; 67 mg. cholesterol; 200 mg. sodium.


Bruschetta with burrata and radicchio marmalade

Total time: 20 minutes

Servings: 8

1 pound radicchio, preferably Treviso

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

5 whole garlic cloves, peeled

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 baguette

1/2 pound burrata

Freshly ground black pepper

1. Trim ends, then cut each head of radicchio into lengthwise quarters and then into crosswise ribbons about 1/4 -inch wide. Combine the radicchio in a cold skillet with 3 tablespoons olive oil, garlic, salt and balsamic vinegar. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the radicchio has softened, about 10 minutes.

2. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the radicchio is quite soft and the bitterness has cooked out, about 5 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and perhaps just a little more balsamic vinegar. Remove from heat and set aside. Remove the garlic before serving.

3. Slice the baguette into 1/2 -inch slices and toast until lightly browned on both sides.

4. Spoon a heaping teaspoon of the radicchio marmalade onto each slice of bread and top with a similarly sized spoonful of burrata (try to get both the filling and the wrapping in each spoonful). Sprinkle each with a light grinding of black pepper and a drizzle of the remaining olive oil and serve.

Each serving: 270 calories; 10 grams protein; 25 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 14 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 22 mg. cholesterol; 416 mg. sodium.

Un poco del maestro Fulara antes de ir a dormir...

La Pesadilla De Maradona

Kirchner maestro. Con un ojo lo sigue a Chavez y con el otro posa para la foto.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

El downtown del futuro?

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Esta mañana andando en el bus...

Friday, April 21, 2006

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Comienza hoy esta coleccion de relatos, fotos, recetas, articulos, videos y demas memorabilia en la que los acentos y algunas eñes brillaran por su ausencia.