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Gift Guide: TechCrunch’s Favorite Things of 2021

We made it, friends. Another year in the books. Was it the very normal year we all wanted? No. But, for many, it was at least a step in that direction. Or maybe two steps in that direction, and one step back. Yeah, it was still a weird one. No matter…

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We made it, friends. Another year in the books.

Was it the very normal year we all wanted? No. But, for many, it was at least a step in that direction. Or maybe two steps in that direction, and one step back. Yeah, it was still a weird one.

No matter the year, we here at TechCrunch like to cap it off with a list of our favorite things from the last 365-or-so days. As always, “things” here is defined… very loosely. “Things” here can be books. Or podcasts. Or concepts. Or people! Or games, or songs, or… it doesn’t matter really. If it made that person’s 2021 a little brighter — and regardless of whether or not those things were new to 2021 — it can go on the list.

Why? Because we like to do it, and because people tell us they like reading it. And because it’s a fun little glimpse into the head spaces of the people who make this little piece of the Internet exist. Plus if you’re still looking for some last minute gift, maybe you’ll find some sort of inspiration. Here we go!

Greg


Greg Kumparak

Project Hail Mary

I waited a while to read this book because while I loved Andy Weir’s The Martian, his next book Artemis — while still very good! — didn’t hook me the same way. Once I finally sat down to read Project Hail Mary, I couldn’t stop.

Exploding with intrigue from page one, all I can say without spoiling anything is: a man wakes up on a spaceship without any idea how or why he’s there. As he explores the ship, he slowly re-learns who he is … and why he left Earth in the first place. Read it.

Robin Robin (Netflix Christmas short)

Image Credits: Netflix

This Christmas-y stop-motion short from the studio behind Wallace and Gromit is only a few weeks old, but it’s an instant classic. The animation is beautiful, the songs are adorable, and every little piece of it is perfectly honed. My three year old has been requesting it on a loop since it came out, and I don’t mind a bit.

The Attraction, an escape room in SF

Image Credits: Palace of Fine Arts

I’ve done so many escape rooms that they’ve started to sort of blend together in my brain. The ever growing collection of rooms at San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts, however, stand alone in my mind. The production values, stagecraft, and storytelling are just on a different level. Their latest, “The Attraction“, isn’t my favorite Palace room (that’d be their Edison room) — but it’s still an absolute masterpiece. If you’ve got a clever crew that has proven themselves in other escape rooms, you have to see these ones.


Jordan Crook

NYC’s Bond Vet

Image Credits: Bond Vet

As a new puppy mom (yes, I have a pandemic pet), figuring out how to care for my little guy has both been a joy and a massive source of stress. Bond Vet has loads of locations in New York City, handles urgent care inquiries, and has people available to chat on the phone for just about any question. It comes with a nifty app for downloading my puppy’s medical records or scheduling an appointment, and they have a pharmacy in-house so anything prescribed is given to you during the appointment or can be mailed to you after a telehealth visit. Good service. Great prices. Big fan.

PlayStation 5

Image Credits: Phil Barker/Future Publishing via Getty Images via Getty Images

I got the PS5 recently and it is a vastly improved experience over the PS4. As an avid gamer, it truly is the worst when the system itself is moving slow. The PS5 is lightning quick, has amazing graphics, and games look and feel great on it. The only caveat: you probably need to expand its storage somehow if you like to flip between a bunch of different games. Still worth upgrading!

Netflix’s Formula 1: Drive to Survive / Formula 1 in general

Image Credits: Ian Cuming / Getty Images

I watch all the TV that exists in the world and the show that changed my life the most has been Formula 1: Drive to Survive. Countless articles have been written about how the Netflix Effect has made an impact on Formula 1 as a sport, so I won’t do that here. All I’ll say is that Formula 1 is an intricate, complex, fascinating sport and the best bridge to understanding it is to learn about the drivers and team principals on a more personal level, which this series does very well. Also, it’s worth saying that 2021 has been the most interesting and competitive season of Formula 1 in a long, long time and I can’t wait to see how the behind-the-scenes narrative unfolds on the next seasons of Drive to Survive.


Natasha Mascarenhas

Wired headphones

Image of white headphones hanging against a blue background.

Image Credits: Martin Barraud (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Airpods feel super 2018, and that’s not just because I got my pair that year. With the rise of audio rooms on Clubhouse and Twitter, I’ve resorted back to my old wired headphones for clearer voice quality. It’s simply icing on the cake that I never have to charge them.

Farmer’s market tomatoes

As someone who price compares everything – and walks an extra mile just to pay 50 cents less on almond milk – I’ve always been pretty neutral on splurging at farmer’s markets. Over this past year, though, my partner and I have begun ending our long runs at a San Francisco farmer’s market to indulge in farm fresh tomatoes. Unlike, say, bell peppers, fresh tomatoes taste truly different and, coming from your frugal friend, are always worth the few extra bucks. Plus, the guy who offers free samples always makes my day.

Griefbacon

Are there some writers whose words inspire you to write more? For me that person is Helena Fitzgerald, the author of Griefbacon (aka, the only Substack I currently pay money to read). Her “long, weird essays” make me feel heard in ways I didn’t even know I craved, capturing the true definition of holidays and the importance of rooms.


Devin Coldewey

Backpacking

I’ve gone car-camping for years and loved it, and only recently decided to try out a bit of real backpacking. Hiking ten miles somewhere beautiful and wild with a couple good friends and everything you need on your back is unlike anything else. Plus I love to obsess over gear and I live like half a mile from REI. I’m amazed it took me this long.

Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou

I came across this remarkable pianist in a list of must-listen jazz recordings. The first girl to be sent abroad from Ethiopia for her education (among other firsts for women there,) she returned only to become a prisoner of war in the ’30s and afterwards proceeded to hide her musical light under a bushel for several decades. Guèbrou’s compositions, only recently recorded, are somewhere between blues and Chopin, unique and strange but virtuosic and incredibly compelling.

Genshin Impact

Image Credits: Genshin Impact

OK OK, nerd alert. This free to play game draws a lot of fire for its gambling mechanics and anime waifus and husbandos. But I’ve passed many a very pleasant hour just rambling around its enormous map, collecting treasure, solving puzzles, and fighting monsters… because those things are fun and games are supposed to be fun. It’s been a real balm during stressful times.


Alex Wilhelm

Naps

I turn 33 next year. I actually forgot how old I was yesterday. My spouse noted that we were 31 during a conversation, but I am 32. Her birthday is 5 months after mine, which means for half the year she gets to call me old. But I forgot that I was 32. I just nodded, yes, we are 31. Anyway, naps. Naps are good for my aging body as I wake up, pour coffee into my ears, and slump to the desk. This means that my spine has become an ampersand, and my brain overcooked noodle mash. I combat both issues by taking 20 minute naps at times. This clears my head, and unfogs my eyes. Don’t tell TechCrunch though.

Grand Strategy Video Games

Image Credits: Paradox

One of the best parts of being married is that being Not Cool loses some of its sting. I can now lean fully into the more dweeby elements of my personality and not worry about it.

Enter Grand Strategy Games. Imagine a game that is insanely complex, while also being unpredictable, frustrating, and slow-moving. Sound good? Hell yeah it sounds good. I have spent more time playing Crusader Kings III in the last year than I want to admit. If we throw in a few other titles it’s even more embarrassing.

But don’t worry, I’ve got a lot back from the effort. For example, I once conquered all the Christian holy sites of the Old World, created a new Christian faith that was female-dominated instead of male-led, and then converted the world en masse to a gender-flipped history of religion. More often I get murdered by rude subjects, but hey.

Airheads

Image Credits: Airheads

Playing complex video games, however, can be tiring. So you have to keep your energy up. Enter sugar. Namely condensed, artificially-flavored sugar in the form of Airheads. Anyway, I’m off to floss again.


Kirsten Korosec

Yoga

Image Credits: Hero Images

Nothing has been quite as effective at removing me from my COVID slump – figuratively and literally – as yoga. It was nothing short of a savior even on days when the news cycle and the day-to-day drag of the pandemic threatened to push me over the edge.

Lofi Air Traffic Control

Image Credits: Lofi ATC

What happens when you combine communication from air traffic controllers and lo-fi tunes? The most weirdly calming music stream ever. Hardware editor Brian Heater turned me onto this and at first I laughed. But really, it’s great. You can even pick what airport to hear chat from and if you go to the settings you can determine the balance of music to communication.

Community Supported Agriculture

Image Credits: Valeriya Tikhonova (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

I spend a lot of time in front of a computer and not enough in the garden. Luckily, I support my local CSA, which means every week I am able to pick up fresh, seasonal veggies and even some fruit from local farmers. We took a break on the CSA for a bit, but I’m glad we’re back, even on the weeks that are heavy on turnips.


Rebecca Bellan

Brain.fm

Image Credits: brain.fm

Back in journalism school, I once wrote an article called ‘This is your brain on music’ that explained how music stimulates the reward centers in our brains which can help us focus. For a long time I was a regular on YouTube channels for lo-fi tunes, but then I found Brain.fm, which plays specially designed LYRIC-LESS music to help you focus, or relax or meditate. The company holds patents on its tech that is meant to elicit strong neural phase locking, which they say allows “populations of neurons to engage in various kinds of coordinated activity.”

Whether it’s placebo or real science, all I know is that I don’t truly start writing until I have my headphones on and this beautiful, human/AI-generated music playing in my brain.

Gardening

seedlings sprouts plants

Image Credits: Witthaya Prasongsin (opens in a new window) / Getty Images under a Witthaya Prasongsin on Getty license.

I recently moved to Auckland, New Zealand, into a house that had some semblance of a garden. It was a mess, but it was also clear that someone, at some point, loved this garden.

Beneath the overgrown weeds, I found patches of parsley, arugula, fennel. Over the last several months, I’ve cleared away the weeds and set to work giving the beds some love with fresh compost that my house collects. There is something so energizing and calming about getting your hands in the dirt everyday, even if it’s just to pull some weeds out of the ground.


Amanda Silberling

Libby

Image Credits: Overdrive

As a famous cartoon aardvark once said, having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got a library card. But Libby makes it even easier.

Libby, owned by Overdrive, is a phone app that lets you borrow ebooks and audiobooks from your local library on the go. It’s completely free. The quality of your Libby experience probably depends on how good a catalog your local library has — but even if it only has a few of the books on your wishlist, you’re still saving some cash. For times when the library’s catalog lets me down, I pay for a subscription to Libro.fm, an Audible competitor that supports independent bookstores rather than Jeff Bezos. Sometimes, believe it or not, I even buy physical books. But I love libraries, I love the Libby app, and I love audiobooks.

Darrell Etherington

Analogue Pocket

Image Credits: Analogue

This is the greatest game console there is, bar none. I thought I was a pretty heavy Game Boy player back in the day, but using Analogue’s new retro console to play GB, GBC and GBA cartridges I scrounge from various local retro gaming shops has been a true delight and also a revelation that there’s a lot out there that I missed during the OG Game Boy heyday that more than holds up today.

Traeger Ironwood 885 Pellet Grill

Image Credits: Traeger

I don’t remember exactly how or why I got interested in low and slow smoking and grilling, but the pandemic really kicked it up a notch in terms of how into it I am. That’s why I was thrilled to get my hands on the Traeger Ironwood 885, a pellet smoker with all the bells and whistles you could ever ask for, including remote control and monitoring via the excellent Traeger app. The Ironwood series adds seriously useful features like an insulated cooking barrel for all-weather smoking, and a built-in pellet sensor that lets you know when you need to top up for those truly all-day cooks.

Canon EOS R5 + RF 50mm F1.2 L lens

Image Credits: Canon

 

Canon may have gotten off to a slow start in the full-frame mirrorless world, but it’s hitting its stride with its most recent cameras. The R5, while originally released in 2020, is still an amazing camera offering fantastic ergonomics and handling, as well as amazing image quality. As a longtime Canon fan before switching over to Sony in recent years, it’s amazing to be getting that fantastic Canon color science in a camera that feels like it’s finally caught up.


Brian Heater

L’Rain – Fatigue

Image Credits: L’Rain

I can’t really overstate the degree to which music has gotten me through these past two years. And, thankfully, in spite of everything else being entirely miserable there continues to be a lot of great stuff, consistently reminding us of how much we undervalue artists as a society. L’Rain flew completely under my radar with her debut. A musician I recently interviewed namechecked Fatigue, and I was blown away.

As a piece of music, it’s wonderfully impossible to categorize, a small army of musicians creating songs that are intentionally difficult to define, peppered with found sound. It alternately soothes and subverts – music that’s challenging but not difficult. Encompassing on first listen and rewarding with subsequent spins.

(I didn’t have nearly as much time to work on this list as I’d like, so I’m going to cheat and toss in a link to a Spotify playlist I made of my favorite music of the year, including my top track from Fatigue. I hope Greg doesn’t get mad.)


Natasha Lomas

Yak Tack

Image Credits: Yak Tack

Since I discovered it back in April, Yak Tack has managed to do what few apps can: Stick around on my phone and actually get used!

As a word nerd it is indubitably my kind of app. It’s both pocket dictionary (for quick & easy look-ups) but also — and here comes the automagic! — aide memoire for making newly encountered vocab stick. It applies a system of adaptive space repetition to help hack the brain’s memory banks (in the nicest possible way). And if you fail to confirm you revisited a word on schedule it’ll email you the gentlest lil’ reminder: “Don’t forget about your words!”

Yak Tack is a passion project for its developer creator, Jeremy Thomas. He also made a purely email-based ‘no frills’ version (without the app’s light social features). So here’s a big thanks — for a great side hustle and to surviving 2021 one (new) word at a time!

@mattgreencomedy

Talking of survival, coping with another year of UK politics has been an increasingly perilous pastime since ~2016. But 2021 has really tested the limits of what a sane populace will accept from its ‘elected representatives’. Still, Boris Johnson’s grifting Conservative government of none-of-the-talents has had one upside: It’s been pure comedy gold (‘if you don’t laugh you’ll cry’ etc etc). All the mixed messaging, daylight grifting, dubious denials and damaging delays around Covid policy; all the rule-breaking scandals, excruciating leaked videos, perpetual internecine Tory warefare by WhatsApp Group and the cringing parade of leaked ‘it wasn’t a party’ party photos (mostly you’re just glad you weren’t there) have provided rich pickings for British satirist, Matt Green, who’s been a bright light in Twitter’s dark places this year.

Continuous Glucose Monitoring

Image Credits: Ultrahuman

For a few weeks this year I’ve been testing a “metabolic fitness” service (Ultrahuman’s ‘Cyborg’) — full review to come! — which involves the use of a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) to provide real-time feedback on your blood glucose levels via an app. Many factors can affect blood sugar (diet, exercise, stress etc) and there are a lot of questions over how to best interpret this kind of data but — overall — it’s been a fascinating glimpse of where quantified health is headed and an addictive taster of biohacking. I think I’m hooked!


Anna Heim

Puzzling

Image Credits: Wentworth Puzzles

It all started with Wallace and Gromit: I am a huge fan, so when I heard that Aardman had partnered with a British puzzle manufacturer for a Christmas special, I knew I had to get one. Because of high demand, my puzzle arrived in early January, and it ended up shaping my 2021: I loved it so much that puzzles became my hobby all throughout the year, and hopefully for the rest of my life. It’s doing wonders for my anxiety levels, and it’s also very fun – especially jigsaws with tons of little details, like drawings by Guillermo Mordillo or Sempé, or wooden ones with cutely shaped pieces, known as whimsies.

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Commodities

Five Major Challenges Facing The Energy Industry

Five Major Challenges Facing The Energy Industry

Authored by Irina Slav via OilPrice.com,

Record-high prices at the pump, a looming diesel…

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Five Major Challenges Facing The Energy Industry

Authored by Irina Slav via OilPrice.com,

Record-high prices at the pump, a looming diesel shortage right when the summer season is starting, and an uncooperative OPEC are probably reasons for many headaches among government officials around the world.

Yet these are, in fact, manifestations of deeper problems in the energy industry.

Underinvestment 

In the past decade or so, Europe and, to a lesser but no less significant extent, North America, have made it their mission to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and increase their reliance on renewable energy.

This has spurred an investor exodus from oil and gas and the emergence of the so-called ESG investing trend. Money for new oil and gas developments has become more difficult to tap as banks join the ESG movement, and companies have had to cut back on spending.

Saudi Arabia's oil minister warned that underinvestment in oil and gas would have a boomerang effect on consumers earlier this year, and he is not the only one. Many OPEC officials have made the same warning but, apparently, to no avail. After all, none other than the International Energy Agency said last year the world does not need new oil and gas exploration because we won't be needing any more new oil or gas supply.

Of course, it was only a few months later that the IEA changed its tune, calling on OPEC to boost production, and it demonstrated one of the harsh realities of the energy industry: you cannot reverse a process that has been going on for years in a matter of months.

Low discovery rates

A topic that doesn't get much talked about, the average rate of new oil and gas discoveries is, in a way, comparable to the average conversion rate of solar panels: it is well below 30 percent.

Bloomberg recently reported that three wells that Shell had drilled offshore Brazil had come up dry. The supermajor had paid $1 billion for drilling rights in the area and had spent three years drilling to come up empty-handed. Exxon had also failed to tap any significant oil reserves in its Brazilian blocks, which cost it $1.6 billion.

The news highlights the risky nature of oil and gas exploration even in places like Brazil, which has been touted as the next hot spot in the industry, probably alongside Guyana. Brazil has become a magnet for supermajors because of its prolific presalt zone, but, as one local energy consultant told Bloomberg, the big discoveries have already been made—back when the discovery rate was close to 100 percent.

The average successful discovery rate for the oil and gas industry is much lower than that, however, at 24.8 percent, according to Bloomberg. And there are fewer and fewer big discoveries to be made.

Production cost inflation

Broader inflation trends, in large part driven by soaring energy costs, have not passed the energy industry itself. In the U.S. shale patch, production costs have risen by some 20 percent. Two companies recently warned they would be reporting higher costs for their second quarters, Continental Resources and Hess Corp, and they are far from the only ones experiencing these higher costs.

Shortages of raw materials such as frac sand and, earlier this year, steel piping for wells, are one reason for the production cost inflation, not just in the shale patch but everywhere where these raw materials are used in oil fields. A shortage of labor is a special problem for the U.S. shale patch, too, helping to drive production costs higher. Lingering supply chain problems from the pandemic are also in the mix.

The bigger problem is that the industry is not expecting any respite in the coming months, either, as Argus recently reported, citing oil and gas executives. The production cost squeeze comes at a time when the federal government really needs more oil and gas, which is probably the worst possible time as it has discouraged drillers further from spending more on new drilling.

Cyberattacks

Cybersecurity has become a cause for concern in the energy industry in the past few years as cyberattacks have multiplied significantly. The Colonial Pipeline hacking really helped out things in perspective on the cybersecurity front, but little action followed, it seems.

A brand new survey by DNV, the Norwegian risk assessment and quality assurance consultancy, revealed this week that the industry is quite uneasy about cyberthreats and, what's worse, not really prepared to handle them.

According to the study, 84 percent of executives expect cyberattacks will lead to physical damage to energy assets, while more than half—54 percent—expect cyberattacks to result in the loss of human life. Some 74 percent of the respondents expect environmental damage as a result of a cyberattack. And only 30 percent know what to do if their company becomes a target of such an attack.

Geopolitics

The most chronic risk in the energy industry, geopolitics is never far away when prices start swinging wildly or, as is the case right now, remain stubbornly high. The prospect of an EU oil embargo on Russia, although dimming in the past few days, is one big bullish factor for oil prices. The lack of progress on Iran nuclear talks is another. And then there is, of course, OPEC's evident unwillingness to respond to calls from the West for more oil.

Russia itself does not seem bothered by the embargo prospects at all. "The same oil that they [the EU countries] bought from us will have to be purchased elsewhere, and they will pay more, because the prices will definitely rise; and once the cost of delivery and freight increase, it will be necessary to invest in building the corresponding infrastructure," Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said this week.

Iran is meanwhile boosting its oil exports, which go almost exclusively to China. The country has signaled it will not agree to a deal with the U.S. unless the U.S. meets its demands, and it appears that the ball is now in Washington's court. In the meantime, China will have Iranian oil, but no one else will.

For the U.S., the price problem has become so dire that now President Biden is seeking a meeting with the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed, whom he has consistently refused to communicate with, instead communicating with his father, King Salman. Biden has also been openly critical of MbS for his alleged role in the killing of a dissident Saudi journalist, calling the Kingdom a "pariah" with "no redeeming social value." Geopolitics can be awkward.

Tyler Durden Mon, 05/23/2022 - 21:40

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Spread & Containment

What Did Other Term Spreads Do? And What Does the US Spread Mean for Foreign Economic Activity?

As noted in the post by Rashad Ahmad, foreign yield curve developments helped predict US growth. What did those spreads do? And, turning the question on…

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As noted in the post by Rashad Ahmad, foreign yield curve developments helped predict US growth. What did those spreads do? And, turning the question on its head, what does the US spread mean for those economies’ recession prospects?

Figure 1 depicts 10yr-3m sovereign spreads over time — so before the 2007 recession and during the run-up to  the 2020 pandemic.

Figure 1: 10yr-3mo Treasury spread (bold black), 10yr-3mo government bond – 3 month interbank spread for Canada (blue), for France (brown), for Germany (green), for Japan (red), for UK (dark gray). Source: Treasury via FRED, OECD Main Economic Indicators via FRED, and author’s calculations.

A cleaner measure for the foreign countries would’ve used sovereign yields for the short rate, to make comparable to the US spread (and to control for default risk), but I couldn’t get that easily.

While Chinn and Kucko (2015) examined cross-country evidence for own 10yr-3mo term spreads predicting recessions, we did not examine whether US term spreads had predictive power for foreign recessions. Mehl (2009) examined the usefulness of US spreads for predicting other-country economic activity and inflation rates — but using the 5yr-3mo spread. See the (brief) review of predicting recessions cross-country in this post.

A quick and dirty look at the data shows that the US term spread does not help much in adding to the 12 month predictive power of own-term spread for recessions during the 1970-2022M05 period for the countries shown above (recession peak-to-trough dates from ECRI). The probit regression involves the local economy recession indicator on the LHS, and the local term spread on the RHS, alone and augmented with the US term spread, along with a constant. (Of course, results might change with the addition of other covariates like oil price, equity prices and some measure of financial conditions).

Note that I only examined recessions; I didn’t examine growth or inflation. More for later.

 

 

 

 

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Spread & Containment

Top Gas ETFs to Buy in 2022 with Soaring Gas Prices

To grab your piece of the rising energy costs, below are the top gas ETFs to buy in 2022. Let’s get started.
The post Top Gas ETFs to Buy in 2022 with…

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All anyone wants to talk about anymore is the soaring price of gasoline. After all, the cost to fill your tank has never been higher. With industry profits piling up, get your share with the best gas ETFs to buy before the second half (2H) of 2022.

First, the pandemic severely strained the industry as demand fell off from global lockdowns. As a result, over 100 oil and gas companies went out of business.

Then, as the economy reopened and demand started catching up, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine stoked a fire under an already strained market. So, demand is outpacing supply as nations look elsewhere to fill the supply gap left by Russia’s massive presence in the commodity market.

Nonetheless, gasoline is essential to keep the economy running smoothly. You need gas for fuel to get to work and back. Not to mention, businesses rely on gas for transporting goods, which influences prices. To grab your piece of the rising energy costs, below are the top gas ETFs to buy in 2H of 2022.

What Are the Best Gas ETFs to Buy Right Now?

The top gas ETFs to buy are outperforming the market right now as soaring energy costs boost profits. For example, Natural Gas Futures (NG1) are up over 120% YTD and almost 200% over the past year.

Meanwhile, all major indexes are down significantly this year, with the Nasdaq 100 Index (NDX) slipping almost 30% YTD. On top of this, researchers at J.P. Morgan predict gas prices could remain elevated “even as far back as 2024” as supply disruptions will be hard to overcome.

No. 3 Barclays iPath Series B Bloomberg Natural Gas Subindex (NYSE: GAZ)

  • YTD Return: 124%
  • Expense Ratio: 0.45%

Although the Natural Gas Subindex is set up as an Exchange Traded Note (ETN), it can help you gain exposure to the surging gas market. An ETN differs from an ETF in that the fund consists of unsecured debt notes rather than holding a group of stocks.

The GAZ ETN seeks to replicate the returns of the Bloomberg Natural Gas Subindex by investing in futures contracts. That said, the ETN does not pay a dividend. Therefore, GAZ is best as a short-term tool.

Since the ETN is not tied to any companies, only futures, it can carry additional risks. For example, investors are left with little or nothing if the issuer defaults. In comparison, ETFs hold several companies, helping to diversify and spread risk.

At the same time, the ETN moves alongside the price of natural gas contacts. So, if you are looking for direct exposure to gas prices, the GAZ ETN may be for you.

Keep reading for more on gas ETFs to buy.

No. 2 United States Natural Gas Fund (NYSE: UNG)

  • YTD Return: 128%
  • Expense Ratio: 1.11%

The United States Natural Gas Fund is another way investors can invest in natural gas prices without physically trading futures. For one thing, UNG is a commodity pool. Or in other words, it pools investor money to invest in futures, swaps and forward contracts.

The fund aims to give investors access to daily changes in natural gas deliveries at the Henry Hub, a distribution center. As a result, the daily changes resemble changes in natural gas prices.

However, since management is consistently active, it will cost more to invest. Though the higher expense is not slowing UNGs momentum, up close to 130% YTD. Likewise, UNG is more geared for short-term trading as it holds near-month contracts.

No. 1 United States 12 Month Natural Gas Fund (NYSE: UNL)

  • YTD Return: 113%
  • Expense Ratio: 0.90%

Similarly, the United States 12 Month Natural Gas Fund is a commodity pool targeting the price of natural gas. But, UNL differs in that it holds futures contracts for the nearest 12 months.

In other words, UNL buffers itself from short-term movements. As a result, investors can gain exposure to changes in natural gas prices with less risk than short-term contracts.

If you wish to capture your piece of the soaring energy prices but want less risk of contango (higher spot price), UNL may be a better choice.

Best Leveraged Gas ETFs to Buy

To maximize your returns, you can opt for a leveraged ETF to multiply the changes in an underlying index. For example, the ProShares Ultra Bloomberg Natural Gas ETF (NYSE: BOIL) targets to return 2X the daily performance of a natural gas index.

As a result, investors can earn double the daily returns of natural gas changes. With this in mind, the BOIL ETF is up 322% in 2022 alone.

However, there is a significant risk of investing in leveraged ETFs. Though you can earn double the returns, you can also double your losses. Investing in these funds is only recommended if you are comfortable with the significant fluctuations.

Best Inverse (Short) Gas ETFs to Buy

For those that think gas prices will ease soon, finding an inverse gas ETF to buy in 2022 may be for you. Or, if you have earned a pretty penny on gas and oil stocks already, you may want to protect your downside.

Nevertheless, the ProShares Ultrashort Bloomberg Natural Gas ETF (NYSE: KOLD) is a way to earn (-2X) the daily performance of a natural gas index.

In comparison, the KOLD ETF is down 90% YTD while natural gas prices soar. So, it gives you an idea of how quickly earnings can dry up in these types of investments.

What Gas ETFs to Buy for Passive Investors

The funds listed above are the best gas ETFs to buy for capturing the explosive rise in gas prices. But, for passive investors, these may not be the best option. For one thing, the gas and oil market can change rapidly.

During the pandemic, oil prices plunged below $0 for the first time. Then, two years later, we are looking at record high prices of over $130. As a result, oil and gas ETFs are having wild swings.

Nonetheless, research from J.P. Morgan shows the cost burden of higher gas prices is around $7 billion per month. As a result, consumers have less to spend in other areas of the economy. We already see the evidence with companies like Walmart (NYSE: WMT) and Target (NYSE: TGT) missing earnings estimates while blaming transportation costs.

In short, profits are being pulled from other parts of the economy to compensate for the lack of supply and rising demand. With this in mind, the energy sector looks ready to continue its run.

The Energy Select Sector SPDR Fund (NYSE: XLE) is an excellent option for passive investors looking to gain exposure with less risk. The XLE ETF is up 48% YTD while investing in top gas and oil companies like Exxon Mobile (NYSE: XOM). No matter your investing style, with the price at the pump holding steady, these are the top gas ETFs to buy this year to get your share.

The post Top Gas ETFs to Buy in 2022 with Soaring Gas Prices appeared first on Investment U.

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