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David Stockman On The All-Out Commitment To Destroy Fossil Fuels… Will It Succeed?

David Stockman On The All-Out Commitment To Destroy Fossil Fuels… Will It Succeed?

Authored by David Stockman via InternationalMan.com,

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David Stockman On The All-Out Commitment To Destroy Fossil Fuels... Will It Succeed?

Authored by David Stockman via InternationalMan.com,

Investment in all phases of the fossil energy industry has swooned sharply in recent years, owing to both government regulatory and tax subsidy interventions and also due to the takeover of the Wall Street energy narrative by the ESG (environmental, social and governance) nonsense.

Thus, as one astute analyst summarized,

The oil and gas industry, from extraction to transportation to refining, is no longer the profitable and financially stable enterprise it long was. Over the past decade, the industry’s profits have sagged, revenues and cash flows have withered, bankruptcies have abounded, stock prices have fallen, massive capital investments have been written off as worthless and fossil fuel investors have lost hundreds of billions of dollars.

Needless to say, this lagging investment trend began long before the COVID-19 pandemic crippled the global economy. Thus, over the last decade:

  • The stock market value of the four largest oil and gas majors plummeted by more than half;

  • In five of the past seven years the oil and gas industry ranked last among all sectors of the S&P 500, falling to less than 3% of the total market cap of the index compared to 16% a decade ago and 30%a few decades earlier.

  • Since 2015, industry analysts Hayes and Boone listed nearly 800 exploration and production companies, oilfield services, and midstream oil and gas companies that have filed for bankruptcy, with a debt load of more than $300 billion.

  • 2020 saw $145 billion of write-down of oil reserves and related assets, reflecting the diminishing value of the oil and gas sector.

The companies at the center of the US fracking boom have fared worse, consistently spending far more on drilling and production than they generated by selling oil and gas. According to The Wall Street Journal, large publicly traded oil and gas producers spent $1.18 trillion on drilling and pumping oil over the past decade, largely on fracking, while bringing in only $819 billion in operating cash flow, and this yawning gap was covered with rising debt and asset sales.

Overall, the picture could not be more obvious. Energy prices are going to continue rising because the fossil investment/supply development process has been short-circuited.

For instance, capital expenditure (CapEx) among the five largest oil and gas companies has nearly halved since 2013.

Specifically, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Total, Shell and BP spent $88.7 billion in 2019 to fund capital projects, down 47% from $165.9 billion in 2013. As a result, CapEx among these energy giants is at levels not seen since 2007.

Here is the cash price of WTI (West Texas Intermediate) oil since March 31 when Biden announced his plan to release 1 million barrels per day from the nation’s strategic petroleum reserve (SPR).

Spot Market Price of WTI Since March 31

Of course, the SPR release was merely a political sop.

What the Biden apparatchiks are really aiming to do is use $120 oil prices as an excuse to accelerate their promotion (at taxpayer expense) of high-cost green energy. As Biden recently put it:

Congress could help right away by passing clean energy tax credits and investments that I have proposed. A dozen CEOs of America’s largest utility companies told me earlier this year that my plan would reduce the average family’s annual utility bills by $500 and accelerate our transition from energy produced by autocrats.

What utter clap-trap. Autocrats? Like those in the Persian Gulf where Joe is heading on bended knee?

The fact is the global oil industry is a wonder of free markets, the OPEC cartel notwithstanding. Supply and demand rule - even if on the margin the big Persian Gulf producers have some discretion over the rate at which they draw down their underground hydrocarbon reserves.

So “autocrats” have nothing to do with it. Not Putin or any of the others.

What’s really in play here is the all-out commitment of the Biden Administration to destroy the fossil fuel industry in the name of preventing a climate catastrophe that is pure fiction.

*  *  *

Unfortunately, there’s little any individual can practically do to change the trajectory of this trend in motion. The best you can do is to stay informed so that you can protect yourself in the best way possible, and even profit from the situation. Most people have no idea what really happens when a currency collapses, let alone how to prepare… How will you protect your savings in the event of a currency crisis? This just-released video will show you exactly how. Click here to watch it now.

Tyler Durden Tue, 07/26/2022 - 06:30

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‘Forgetful’ Fauci Could Not Recall Key Details Of COVID Crisis Response During Deposition: Louisiana AG

‘Forgetful’ Fauci Could Not Recall Key Details Of COVID Crisis Response During Deposition: Louisiana AG

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The…

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'Forgetful' Fauci Could Not Recall Key Details Of COVID Crisis Response During Deposition: Louisiana AG

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Dr. Anthony Fauci said he could not recall key details about his actions during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to one of the officials who questioned him on Nov. 23.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks in Washington on May 11, 2022. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Fauci, the director National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) since 1984 and President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, was deposed by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, both Republicans.

“It was amazing, literally, that we spent seven hours with Dr. Fauci—this is a man who single-handedly wrecked the U.S. economy based upon ‘the science, follow the science.’ And over the course of seven hours, we discovered that he can’t recall practically anything dealing with his COVID response,” Landry told The Epoch Times after leaving the deposition. “He just said, ‘I can’t recall, I haven’t seen that. And I think we need to put these documents into context,'” Landry added.

“It was extremely troubling to realize that this is a man who advises presidents of the United States and yet couldn’t recall information he put out, information he discussed, press conferences he held dealing with the COVID-19 response,” Landry added later.

Fauci and NIAID did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Landry declined to provide more details about the deposition until it is made public, which will happen at a future date. But he said officials would be able to take some of what they learned to advance their case.

Landry and Schmitt sued the U.S. government in May, alleging it violated people’s First Amendment rights by pressuring big tech companies to censor speech. Documents produced by the government in response bolstered the claims. U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty, the Trump appointee overseeing the case, recently ordered Fauci and seven other officials to testify under oath about their knowledge of the censorship.

Doughty concluded that plaintiffs showed Fauci “has personal knowledge about the issue concerning censorship across social media as it related to COVID-19 and ancillary issues of COVID-19.”

While Fauci qualified as a high-ranking official, the burden of him being deposed was outweighed by the court’s need for information before ruling on a motion for a preliminary injunction, Doughty said.

Wednesday was the first time Fauci testified under oath about his interactions with big tech firms, including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Before the deposition, Landry said in a statement, “We all deserve to know how involved Dr. Fauci was in the censorship of the American people during the COVID pandemic; tomorrow, I hope to find out.”

“We’re going to follow the evidence everywhere it goes to get down to exactly what has happened, to get down to the fact that our government used private entities to suppress the speech of Americans,” Landry told The Epoch Times.

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry (C) speaks during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, on Jan. 22, 2020. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Great Barrington Declaration

Jenin Younes with the New Civil Liberties Alliance, another lawyer representing plaintiffs in the case, said that Fauci claimed he did not worry about a document called the Great Barrington Declaration.

Penned in October 2020, the document called for focused protection on people most at-risk from COVID-19 while rescinding the harsh restrictions that had been imposed on children and others at little risk from the disease. Two of its authors, Dr. Jay Bhattacharya and Martin Kulldorff, are plaintiffs in the case.

I have a very busy day job running a six billion dollar institute. I don’t have time to worry about things like the Great Barrington Declaration,” Fauci said, according to Younes.

Fauci, though, has spoken multiple times about the declaration.

In internal emails that were later published, Fauci and Dr. Francis Collins, Fauci’s former boss, both criticized the declaration. “There needs to be a quick and devastating published takedown of its premises,” Collins wrote, prompting Fauci to send him a Wired magazine article he claimed “debunks this theory.”

In another missive, obtained by The Epoch Times through a Freedom of Information Act request, Fauci said the declaration reminded him of AIDS denialism.

Fauci also talked about the declaration in public, including defending his criticism during a congressional hearing in May.

I have come out very strongly publicly against the Great Barrington Declaration,” Fauci wrote to Dr. Deborah Birx in another email.

Other Depositions

The government moved to block some of the depositions, but not Fauci’s. It just won an order blocking the depositions of Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Jen Easterly, and Rob Flaherty, a deputy assistant to Biden.

Similar efforts to block the depositions of former White House press secretary Jen Psaki and FBI official Elvis Chan have been unsuccessful.

Chan is scheduled to answer questions next week. Psaki is scheduled to be deposed on Dec. 8.

Chan was involved in communicating with Facebook, LinkedIn, and other big tech firms about content moderation, according to evidence developed in the case and public statements he’s made. Psaki publicly said while still in the White House that platforms should step up against alleged mis- and disinformation.

Plaintiffs have already deposed several officials including Daniel Kimmage, an official at the State Department’s Global Engagement Center.

That center worked with Easterly’s agency to create a coalition of nonprofits called the Election Integrity Partnership, which pushed social media companies to censor speech.

Kimmage was also responsible for meetings during which censorship was discussed, with State Department official Samaruddin Stewart acting on his orders, according to documents produced by LinkedIn.

Read more here...

Tyler Durden Sat, 11/26/2022 - 13:30

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COVID Lockdown Protests Erupt In Beijing, Xinjiang After Deadly Fire

COVID Lockdown Protests Erupt In Beijing, Xinjiang After Deadly Fire

Protests have erupted in Beijing and the far western Xinjiang region…

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COVID Lockdown Protests Erupt In Beijing, Xinjiang After Deadly Fire

Protests have erupted in Beijing and the far western Xinjiang region over COVID-19 lockdowns and a deadly fire on Thursday in a high-rise building in Urumqi that killed 10 people (with some reports putting the number as high as 40).

Crowds took to the street in Urumqi, the capitol of Xinjiang, with protesters chanting "End the lockdown!" while pumping their fists in the air, following the circulation of videos of the fire on Chinese social media on Friday night.

Protest videos show people in a plaza singing China's national anthem - particularly the line: "Rise up, those who refuse to be slaves!" Others shouted that they did not want lockdowns. In the northern Beijing district of Tiantongyuan, residents tore down signs and took to the streets.

Reuters verified that the footage was published from Urumqi, where many of its 4 million residents have been under some of the country's longest lockdowns, barred from leaving their homes for as long as 100 days.

In the capital of Beijing 2,700 km (1,678 miles) away, some residents under lockdown staged small-scale protests or confronted their local officials over movement restrictions placed on them, with some successfully pressuring them into lifting them ahead of a schedule. -Reuters

According to an early Saturday news conference by Urumqi officials, COVID measures did not hamper escape and rescue during the fire, but Chinese social media wasn't buying it.

"The Urumqi fire got everyone in the country upset," said Beijing resident Sean Li.

According to Reuters

A planned lockdown for his compound "Berlin Aiyue" was called off on Friday after residents protested to their local leader and convinced him to cancel it, negotiations that were captured by a video posted on social media.

The residents had caught wind of the plan after seeing workers putting barriers on their gates. "That tragedy could have happened to any of us," he said.

By Saturday evening, at least ten other compounds lifted lockdown before the announced end-date after residents complained, according to a Reuters tally of social media posts by residents.

Tyler Durden Sat, 11/26/2022 - 12:00

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US Jobs and Eurozone CPI Highlight the Week Ahead

Two high-frequency economic reports stand out in the week ahead:  The US November employment report and the preliminary eurozone CPI. The Federal Reserve…

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Two high-frequency economic reports stand out in the week ahead:  The US November employment report and the preliminary eurozone CPI. The Federal Reserve has deftly distanced itself from any one employment report. As a result, it would take a significant miss of the median forecast (Bloomberg survey) to alter market expectations for a 50 bp hike when the FOMC meeting concludes on December 14.

Economists are looking for around a 200k increase in US non-farm payrolls after 261k in October. In the first ten months of the year, the US has created 4.07 mln jobs. This is down from 5.51 mln in the Jan-Oct period last week but a strong performance by nearly any other comparison. In the same period before the pandemic, the US created about 1.52 mln jobs. Non-farm payrolls rose by an average of 150k in 2018 and 2019. It is averaging more than twice that now.

Average hourly earnings have increased in importance now with greater sensitivity to inflation and fears among policymakers that it could get embedded into wage expectations. The year-over-year increase in average hourly earnings peaked in March (when the Fed began hiking rates) at 5.6%. It has fallen or been unchanged since and fell to 4.7% in October. Economists expect the pace to have slowed to 4.6%. The 4% rate, seen as more consistent with the Fed's goals, assumes 2% productivity, which has been difficult to sustain outside crises (around the Great Financial Crisis and Covid) since the middle of 2004.

The ECB is a different kettle of fish. Nearly all the voting members at the Fed that have spoken, including the leading hawks, seem to accept a downshifting from 75 bp to 50 bp. However, at the ECB, there appears to be a genuine debate. It hiked rates by 75 bp at the last two meetings after starting the normalization process with a half-point move in July. As a result, the month-over-month headline inflation surged by 1.2% in September and 1.5% in October. The year-over-year rate stood at 10.7% in October, 300 bp above the US. On the other hand, core inflation was 5% above a year ago in the eurozone compared with 6.3% in the US. The median forecast in Bloomberg's survey sees the headline rate easing to 10.4%, with the core rate unchanged.

This is leading some, like the Austrian central bank governor Holzmann to suggest that unless there is a sharp fall in the November report, he would be inclined to support another 75 bp hike when the ECB meets on December 15. The preliminary estimate of November CPI will be released on November 30, but the final reading will not be available until the day after the ECB's meeting. That said, revisions tend to be minor. While Holzmann is perceived to be one of the more hawkish members of the ECB, the more dovish contingent seems to be pushing for a slowing the pace to 50 bp. It is a bit too simple to make it into a North-South dispute. The ECB's chief economist, Lane, from Ireland, is in the 50-bp camp. The swaps market sees a little more than a 30% chance of a 75 bp hike next month. Countering the elevated price pressures is recognizing that the eurozone is slipping into a recession. Still, officials say it will likely be short and shallow, arguably giving them more latitude to adjust rates.

To be sure, the US also reports inflation. The Fed's targeted measure, the PCE deflator for October, will be released the day before the employment report. But, in this cycle, in terms of the Fed's reaction function, it seems to have been downgraded, and the thunder stolen by the CPI. Indeed, when Fed Chair Powell explained why the Fed hiked by 75 bp instead of 50 bp in June as it had led the market to believe, he cited CPI and the preliminary University of Michigan consumer inflation expectation survey (which was later revised lower). While the methodologies and basket of the PCE deflator are different than CPI, the former is expected to confirm the broad developments of the latter. A 0.3% rising in the headline PCE deflator will see the year-over-year pace slip below 6% for the first time since last November. It peaked at 7.0% in the middle of the year. The core rate is stickier and may have eased to 5% after edging up in both August and September.

The US economic calendar is packed in the days ahead. The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller house prices 20-city index are expected to have fallen for the third consecutive month (September). That has not happened for a decade. The FHFA house price index is broadly similar. It fell by 0.6% in July and 0.7% in August. The median forecast (Bloomberg survey) is for a 1.3% decline in September. If accurate, it would be the largest monthly decline since November 2008. The October goods trade balance and inventory are inputs into GDP forecasts. There continues to be a significant gap between the Atlanta Fed's GDPNow tracker (4.3%) and the median estimates in Bloomberg's survey (0.5%).

The JOLTS (Job Opening and Labor Turnover Survey) has become a popular metric in this cycle and has often been cited by Fed officials. It peaked in March at nearly 11.86 mln. It has erratically trended lower and stood slightly below 10.72 mln in September. It is forecast to have softened in October. The low for the year was set in August at 10.28 mln. In the three downturns since 2000, the peak in JOLTS has come well before a recession, and the bottom after the recession has ended.

While the cost-of-living squeeze is impacting consumption, the supply chains are normalizing, which is a powerful tailwind. This is at least partly the story in the auto sector. US auto sales reached 14.9 mln (SAAR) in October, the best since January and almost 15% from October 2021. In fact, in the three months through October, US auto sales are running 8.8% above the same three-month period a year ago. Still, US auto sales have averaged 13.73 mln through October, nearly 11% lower, at an annualized pace in the first ten months of 2021. Still, S&P Global Mobility analysis warns of softer November figures (14.1 mln). However, if the projection is accurate, it would be about 9.6% more than in November 2021.

There was some optimism that after the 20th Party Congress, China's Xi would have the authority and inclination to pivot on Covid, property, and foreign relations. Yet, Chinese and international medical experts have warned that China is woefully unprepared to relax its Covid policy regarding inoculation rates and medical infrastructure. The surge in cases has seen restrictions imposed on an area responsible for more than a fifth of the country's GDP. China's composite PMI has been falling since the year's peak at 54.1 in June. It fell below the 50 boom/bust level in October for the first time since May, and Q4 GDP appears to be slowing from the 3.9% quarter-over-quarter jump in Q3 after the 2.7% contraction in Q2. The world's second-largest economy may be growing around a third of the pace in Q4, with risks to the downside. The median forecast (in Bloomberg's survey) is for Q1 23 growth of 0.9%.

Aid to the property market may help stabilize the sector in the short term. Iron ore prices surged by more than 27% at the end of October through November 18 amid the optimism. However, this seemed anticipatory in nature as many of the new measures are slowly rolling out. Many observers share our doubts that the excesses of a couple of decades have been absorbed or alleviated. News that separate from the list of 16 measures to support the property market announced earlier this month, the PBOC is considering a CNY200 bln (~$28 bln) of interest-free loans to commercial banks through the end of Q1 to induce them to provide matching funds for stalled property markets, seems to be a subtle recognition that more efforts are needed. While new supply has stalled, we are concerned that the more significant issue is effective demand.  

Japan, the world's third-largest economy, unexpectedly contracted (-1.2% annualized rate) in Q3 but appears to be rebounding, likely aided by the new support measures (JPY39 trillion or ~$275 bln). Japan reports October employment figures. The unemployment rate has been 2.5%-2.6% since March. Japan has been successful in boosting the labor force participation rate. It was at 61.8% in early 2020 before Covid and has been at 62.9%-63.0% for four months through September. This is the highest since at least 2001. Retail sales, reported in terms of value (nominal prices), rose 1.3% and 1.5% in August and September, respectively. Another strong report would not be surprising. Government travel subsidies were widened in October. 

Japanese businesses were pessimistic about the outlook for industrial output in October. They anticipate a 0.4% decline after production fell 1.6% in September. The auto sector is a source of pessimism. Supply chain disruptions were cited for the dour outlooks of Toyota and Honda. Foreign demand is weakening, and Japanese exports are slowing. Japan's preliminary November manufacturing PMI slipped below the 50 boom/bust level to 49.4, its lowest in two years. 

Australia reported October retail sales and some housing data, but the newly introduced monthly CPI may have the most significance. The market is not sure that the Reserve Bank of Australia will hike rates at the December 6 meeting. The futures market has a little better than a 60% chance of a quarter-point hike. The cash rate is at 2.85%. In September, CPI made a new cyclical high of 7.3%. The trimmed mean measure stood at 5.4%, which was also a new high. We would subjectively put the odds higher than the market for a quarter-point hike. The next RBA meeting is on February 9, which seems too long for Governor Lowe to make good on his anti-inflation commitment.

Canada reports Q3 GDP and the November jobs. The Canadian economy is downshifting after enjoying 3.1% and 3.3% annual growth rates in Q1 and Q2, respectively. The pace is likely to be a little less than half in Q3 and appears to be slowing down more here in Q4. The median forecast (Bloomberg's survey) is for the Canadian economy contract in the first two quarters of next year. Canada created an impressive 119k full-time positions in October. Adjusted for the size of the economy, this would be as if the US created 1.3 mln jobs. In four of the past five quarters, Canadian job growth has been concentrated in one month. As one would expect, the following month has been a marked slowdown, and twice there were outright declines in full-time positions. After hiking by 100 bp in July, the Bank of Canada slowed its pace to 75 bp in September and 50 bp in October. The central bank meets on December 7, and the swaps market seems comfortable with a quarter-point hike.

Lastly, we turn to the Taiwanese local elections on November 26. The key is the mayoral contest in Taipei. It is seen as the most likely path of the presidency when Tsai-Ing's term ends in 2024. The great-grandson of Chiang Kai-shek is the candidate for the KMT, which wants closer ties to Beijing but rejects claims it is "pro-China." The DPP candidate is the health minister and architect of the country's Covid policy. The Deputy Mayor of Taipei is running as an independent candidate, but it looks like a two-person contest. Despite the US and Chinese defense officials agreeing to improve their practically non-existent dialogue, there is unlikely to be a meeting of the minds about Taiwan. Changes in the constellation of domestic political forces within Taiwan seem to be the most likely component that may change what appears to be an inexorable deteriorating situation. Both Beijing and Washington have good reason to believe the other is trying to change the status quo. 




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