For the first time ever, the Baltic Dry Index has fallen under 400. As I write this article, it is sitting at 394. To be honest, I never even imagined that it could go this low. Back in early August, the Baltic Dry Index was sitting at 1,222, and since then it has been on a steady decline. Of course the Baltic Dry Index crashed hard just before the great stock market crash of 2008 too, but at this point it is already lower than it was during that entire crisis. This is just more evidence that global trade is grinding to a halt and that 2016 is going to be a “cataclysmic year” for the global economy. Continue reading →
Thanks to increased production of North American gas and new regulations limiting the use of coal, electric power generation in the United States now relies more on gas than on coal for the first time ever.
A recent report by the research firm SNL Energy, based on information from the Energy Information Administration, says gas generated about 31 percent of electric power in April, a small but historic one percent more than was generated by coal. Nuclear power accounted for only about 20 percent, the report says. Continue reading →
Well, the Nasdaq finally did it. It has climbed all the way back to where it was at the peak of the dotcom bubble. Back in March 2000, the Nasdaq set an all-time record high of 5,048.62. On Thursday, after all these years, that all-time record was finally eclipsed. The Nasdaq closed at 5056.06, and Wall Street greatly rejoiced. So if you invested in the Nasdaq at the peak of the dotcom bubble, you are just finally breaking even 15 years later. Unfortunately, the truth is that stocks have not been soaring because the U.S. economy is fundamentally strong. Just like the last two times, what we are witnessing is an irrational financial bubble. Sometimes these irrational bubbles can last for a surprisingly long time, but in the end they always burst. And even now there are signs of economic trouble bubbling to the surface all around us. The following are 11 signs that we are entering the next phase of the global economic crisis… Continue reading →
Reading the general run of financial headlines might lead one to believe that price declines in those commodities which are highly sensitive to economic conditions such as iron ore, copper, oil, natural gas, coal, and lumber are good on their face.
Obviously, the declines aren’t good for those who sell these commodities. But, those of us who buy these commodities in the form of cars, houses, utility bills and other products and services ought to be helping the world economy as we buy more stuff with the freed up income. Continue reading →
First it was a cutoff of Russian natural gas, now Ukraine faces Moscow’s suspension of coal deliveries as winter approaches. As a result, Kiev has been forced to declare a state of emergency in its electricity market as it faces the onset of a dark, frigid winter.
Historically, Ukraine has been self-sufficient in coal, but fighting between government forces and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions has closed more than half the coal mines there and shut down rail lines needed to ship coal to power plants, according to Europe’s coal association, Eurocoal.
In 2011, Germany decided to shut down its nuclear reactors within a decade, a bold response in the aftermath of the Fukushima meltdown. The so-called energiewende – or energy transition – is an audacious plan to rapidly switch from large baseload nuclear power to renewable energy, primarily from solar and wind.
A second energy transition is being considered in Berlin. The German government is negotiating with utilities to close coal-fired power plants in order to slash carbon emissions by 22 million tons by 2020, according to Reuters. That could lead to the closure of 8 gigawatts of coal capacity. Continue reading →
Prepare for energy prices to skyrocket as regulation costs are always passed on to the consumer.
The EPA will launch the most dramatic anti-pollution regulation in a generation early next month, a sweeping crackdown on carbon that offers President Barack Obama his last real shot at a legacy on climate change — while causing significant political peril for red-state Democrats.
The move could produce a dramatic makeover of the power industry, shifting it away from coal-burning plants toward natural gas, solar and wind. While this is the big move environmentalists have been yearning for, it also has major political implications in November for a president already under fire for what the GOP is branding a job-killing “War on Coal,” and promises to be an election issue in energy-producing states such as West Virginia, Kentucky and Louisiana. Continue reading →
With tensions in Ukraine nearing a breaking point, the world is collectively looking to the Western powers for resolution. But, not surprisingly, the response so far has consisted of little more than a wag of the finger, with NATO and other world leaders unanimously condemning Russia’s military action in the Crimea.
While the reasons for this muted response are manifold, it’s difficult to ignore the leverage the Russians hold in this standoff. For starters, the U.S. and other Western powers have little to gain from bringing the Crimean conflict to a head; Russia, on the other hand, greatly benefits from controlling the region, with its strategic access to the Black Sea and concentration of Russian-speaking peoples. Continue reading →
NIAMEY, Niger – In Niger, government officials have fought a Chinese oil giant step by step, painfully undoing parts of a contract they call ruinous. In neighboring Chad, they have been even more forceful, shutting down the Chinese and accusing them of gross environmental negligence. In Gabon, they have seized major oil tracts from China, handing them over to the state company.
China wants Africa’s oil as much as ever. But instead of accepting the old terms, which many African officials call unconditional surrender, some cash-starved African states are pushing back, showing an assertiveness unthinkable until recently and suggesting that the days of unbridled influence by the African continent’s mega-investor may be waning. Continue reading →
SINGAPORE – China’s strategy to diversify supply routes for its rapidly rising energy imports has just taken a major step forward.
On July 15, natural gas from Myanmar (aka Burma) started to flow along a recently completed pipeline that stretches for 1,100 kilometers from the sea coast, through jungle and mountains, to Kunming in southwest China.
There it will feed into other gas lines supplying homes, industries and power plants generating electricity in the world’s biggest energy user. Continue reading →
A map has been generated at FreeMarketAmerica.org which tracks jobs lost on account of the Sierra Club’s war on coal. The data for the map comes from the National Mining Association, which says that over 1.2 million jobs have been lost in the coal industry. If mining stocks haven’t been doing well – whether we are talking coal or even gold – consider the environmental hits taken by the mining industry. Like the timber industry in the Pacific Northwest, coal mining has been specially targeted for reduction.
It’s true, of course. Last June Bloomberg ran a piece, “Displaced coal miners face slim job prospects.” All around the country, coal jobs are being lost. Coal is one of America’s key energy resources. It is an energy resource we don’t have to import. But the Obama Administration appears determined to crush the coal industry in order to save the planet from global warming. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) believes global warming is caused by greenhouse gases produced by coal as well as oil. Therefore, a radical effort is underway to curtail the use of coal.
Only a few years ago more than half our electricity was generated from coal. In the first quarter of 2012 the generation of electricity from coal dropped 21 percent from 2011 levels. The immediate culprit is the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAP). You can read about it at the Web Site of the EPA where it states: “On July 6, 2011, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a rule that protects the health of millions of Americans by helping states reduce air pollution and attain clean air standards. This rule, known as the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, requires states to significantly improve air quality by reducing power plant emissions that contribute to ozone and/or fine particle pollution in other states.” (In other words, coal is out.)
In the middle of the worst economic times since the Great Depression, when as many as 86 million are unemployed, how can the federal government purposely push for over 1.2 million in additional job losses? And yes, the job situation may be worse than official figures suggest. Readers should review CNN Money’s May 4 piece titled “The 86 million invisible unemployed” which stated that our work force has the “lowest force participation rate since 1981.”
As CNN Money explained, “Only people looking for work are considered officially unemployed.” So the situation is worse than the government represents. Yet the government would add to the number of those out of work by strangling the coal industry. When the price of oil remains high and a war in the Middle East could drive oil prices higher, wouldn’t it be wise to leave the coal industry alone? But then, we have to save the planet from global warming – or do we?