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Seven Natural Gas Investments to Buy as Russia Slices Supply

Seven natural gas investments to buy have gained appeal as Russia recently slashed supplies to Europe as cold winter weather approaches. The seven natural…

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Seven natural gas investments to buy have gained appeal as Russia recently slashed supplies to Europe as cold winter weather approaches.

The seven natural gas investments to buy could benefit from price increases if the Nord Stream 1 pipeline that transports Russian gas to Germany reduces production further than it already has thus far. A full stop to Nord Stream 1 would leave Germany particularly vulnerable if energy protectionism grows, likely causing gas inventories to struggle to hit 2021 highs and storage to fall “perilously low” by season’s end, according to BofA Global Research.

It is unclear how much faith to put into a claim by Russia’s Gazprom that part of the reason for its reduced supply of natural gas to Europe is due to “extended maintenance” of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. The cuts to Europe’s flow of natural gas from Russia are occurring as the country’s attack of neighboring Ukraine extends past six months and has been met by a successful counteroffensive in the past week.

Inadequate paperwork for the recently maintained Nord Stream 1 gas turbine is the most recent in a “laundry list of issues” that Russia has given as reasons not to flow gas to Europe, BofA reported. As uncertainty about Russian supplies grows, Europe’s natural gas spot and forward prices are settling into a higher range, the investment firm reported.

Seven Natural Gas Investments to Buy Offer Inflation Protection

Despite Russia’s supply cuts, storage of natural gas in Europe has been built back to a five-year average, according to BofA. Key reasons for preventing a collapse in natural gas supply include high year-over-year exports of the energy source from Norway, strong U.K. output and a significant jump in liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports from nations other than Russia, BofA added.

LNG, created by cooling natural gas and reducing its volume to make it easier, safer and more efficient to ship around the world, has endured price hikes that have caused consumption to drop 12% year over year, BofA wrote in a recent research note.

Natural gas investments offer protection against inflation and the Fed’s interest rate hikes, since such companies wield pricing power with goods and services that are necessities for customers to heat their homes or buildings. The buyers of such essential products and services may be willing to accept a small or even larger increase in price.

Russia’s Export Cuts Fortify Seven Natural Gas Investments to Buy

Russia cut its export of gas from the pipeline to 40% of capacity in June and to 20% in July, while shutting off supply to European nations such as Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands and Poland. The supply squeeze also applied to other nations in apparent retaliation for opposing Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.

Gazprom has scaled back its flows via other pipelines since Russia attacked its neighboring nation in what the country’s President Vladimir Putin described as a “special military operation.” However, military action against a sovereign country like Ukraine violates international law, under Article 2 (4) of the United Nations Charter.

Pre-war Russia Supplied about 40% of Europe’s Natural Gas

Russia typically supplies about 40% of Europe’s natural gas, mostly by pipeline. Deliveries in 2021 totaled around 155 billion cubic metres (bcm).

Bob Carlson, a pension fund chairman who also leads the Retirement Watch investment newsletter, said recently added Cohen & Steers MLP & Energy Opportunity Fund (MLOAX) to all of his portfolios.

“Natural gas should continue to be a good investment, as long as Europe is looking for ways to reduce dependence on Russia,” Carlson told me. “In addition, the natural gas drillers in the U.S. are focused on increasing cash flow and earnings. They’re not inclined to maximize drilling expenses in the short run to increase output.”

Bob Carlson, who leads Retirement Watch, meets with Paul Dykewicz.

Good investment opportunities can be found with companies that provide the pipelines, storage facilities and other infrastructure needed to supply the world with natural gas and other energy sources, Carlson continued.

“One of the attractive qualities of these investments is that their revenues are independent of the prices of the commodities,” Carlson counseled. “The firms charge fees for their services, and the fees often are adjusted for inflation. Their revenues and earnings depend on the volume of commodities passing through their facilities, not the price of the commodity.”

The total returns of “leading” energy service companies are aided by current income and price appreciation, using investments in energy-related master limited partnerships (MLPs) and securities of industry companies, Carlson said. Those businesses are expected to derive at least 50% of their revenues or operating income from exploration, production, gathering, transportation, processing, storage, refining, distribution or marketing of natural gas, crude oil and other energy resources.

Chart courtesy of www.stockcharts.com 

The Cohen & Steers MLP & Energy Opportunity Fund recently held 49 positions and had 53% of the fund in the 10 largest positions. Top holdings of the fund were Enbridge (NYSE: ENB), Cheniere Energy (NYSEAMERICAN: LNG), Williams Companies (NYSE: WMB), Energy Transfer (NYSE: ET) and Pembina Pipeline Corp. (NYSE: PBA).

UNG Earns Spot on List of Seven Natural Gas Investments to Buy

Carlson’s other LNG recommendation is United States Natural Gas (UNG), an exchange-traded fund (ETF) that invests in natural gas futures contracts and related contracts on natural gas prices. The contracts are collateralized with cash and treasury securities.

The fund is designed to track, in percentage terms, the movements of natural gas prices. UNG issues shares that can be bought and sold on the NYSE Arca.

The investment objective of UNG is for the daily percentage changes of its shares’ net asset value (NAV) to reflect daily changes in the price of natural gas delivered at the Henry Hub, Louisiana. Those prices are measured by the daily changes in the Benchmark Futures Contract, less UNG’s expenses.

The Benchmark is the futures contract on natural gas that is traded on the NYMEX. If the near-month contract is within two weeks of expiration, the Benchmark will be the next month contract to expire. The natural gas contract pertains to natural gas delivered at the Henry Hub in Louisiana.

UNG invests primarily in listed natural gas futures contracts and other natural gas related futures contracts. The fund also may invest in forwards and swap contracts. These investments will be collateralized by cash, cash equivalents and U.S. government obligations that have remaining maturities of two years or less.

Chart courtesy of www.stockcharts.com 

Seven Natural Gas Investments to Buy Feature MLP

Bryan Perry, who leads the Cash Machine investment newsletter, proposes investing in energy through the Alerian MLP Exchange Traded Fund (NYSE: AMLP). That fund seeks investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield performance of the Alerian MLP Infrastructure Index. The index is a capped, float-adjusted, capitalization-weighted composite of energy infrastructure Master Limited Partnerships (MLPs) that earn most of their cash flow from midstream activities such as the transportation, storage and processing of energy commodities.

Paul Dykewicz interviews Bryan Perry, head of the Cash Machine investment newsletter.

The United States is the world’s largest producer of oil and gas, with MLPs providing exposure to long-lived assets that generate inflation-protected cash flows. Plus, MLPs have low correlations to other yield-oriented investment such as bond and utilities.

Dividend lovers will appreciate that Alerian MLP ETF offers a current dividend yield of 7.4% and paid $2.94 per share in the past year. The dividend is paid every three months and the last ex-dividend date was Aug. 11, 2022.

The MLP does not require investors to contend with a notoriously troublesome K-1 document at tax preparation time. I once asked a senior accountant at an industry-leading firm for his advice if an investment sends a K-1 to shareholders in preparing their taxes. “Sell it,” he responded.

Chart courtesy of www.stockcharts.com 

Seven Natural Gas Investments to Buy Include Exxon Mobil

Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) zoomed during its time as a recommendation in the Cash Machine investment newsletter between July 2021 and May 17, 2022, providing investors with exposure to liquefied natural gas (LNG), oil refining and strong returns. The company ranks as the world’s second-largest supplier of natural gas and jumped about 55% since its addition to the newsletter’s Safe Haven Portfolio.

Perry, who leads the Cash Machine investment newsletter, focuses on high-income investments. For that reason, Perry wrote that he recommended the stock’s sale when the company’s dividend yield dipped below his 4% minimum. 

With tight energy supply, Perry predicted XOM’s share price would remain well supported by investors seeking an alternative to the sagging stock market so far in 2022, even if Exxon Mobil no longer fit his requirement for a high-yield dividend stock. The company is one of the biggest producers of oil and natural gas worldwide.

Chart courtesy of www.stockcharts.com 

In 2021, Exxon Mobil, the world’s largest refiner, produced 2.3 million barrels of liquids and 8.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day. At the end of 2021, its reserves reached 18.5 billion barrels of oil equivalent, 66% of which were liquids. The company’s global refining capacity totals 4.6 million barrels of oil per day and ranks as one of the biggest manufacturers of commodity and specialty chemicals.

Oil prices have soared due to a combination of robust demand and constricted supply partly caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to the Fast Money Alert advisory service co-led by Mark Skousen and Jim Woods. They wrote that the “smart money” is betting on higher energy prices. Even smarter, faster money is betting on XOM, they added.

Skousen, editor of the Forecasts & Strategies investment newsletter, recently wrote to his subscribers that he is recommending two stocks that are positioned to ride the wave of interest in natural gas. One is Enterprise Products Partners (NYSE: EPD), with a return of 28.9% so far in 2022.

EPD has benefited substantially from increased demand for natural gas and is amassing liquid natural gas (LNG) from processing natural gas at its facilities. It has 19,079 miles of natural gas pipelines and 19 processing facilities, storage and related LNG marketing activities.

Enterprise Products Partners is one of the largest publicly traded partnerships and a key North American provider of midstream energy services to producers and consumers of natural gas, natural gas liquids (NGLs), crude oil, refined products and petrochemicals. In addition, the company’s services include natural gas gathering, treating, processing, transportation and storage.

The company further provides NGL transportation, fractionation, storage and import and export terminals. It also offers crude oil gathering, transportation, storage and terminals, along with petrochemical and refined products transportation, storage and terminals, as well as a marine transportation business.

Chart courtesy of www.stockcharts.com 

I bought shares of Enterprise Products Partners shortly after the 2020 stock market crash to profit from what I perceived as an inevitable recovery. The surge in oil and natural gas prices since then has turned that decision into a nicely profitable one with the stock still on the ascent.

Cheniere Energy Is One of Seven Natural Gas Investments to Buy

Another way to profit from the growing demand for LNG is to invest in energy companies that export liquid natural gas. One of them is Cheniere Energy (NYSE American: LNG). Based in Houston, Texas, Cheniere Energy is the largest liquefied natural gas exporter in the United States.

Business is booming. Revenues surged 165% in the past year to $8.1 billion, and second-quarter earnings per share hit $2.90, compared to only 54 cents a year earlier.

Guidance is strongly positive — there is increasing demand from European customers looking to replace Russian gas. It recently has signed long-term contracts to deliver some 140 million tons of liquid natural gas through 2050. Cheniere Energy also is exiting its Corpus Christi Stage 3 project.

Chart courtesy of www.stockcharts.com

Starting in November of last year, Cheniere Energy began to pay a modest dividend of 33 cents per share. To further enhance shareholder value, Cheniere Energy also has repurchased 4.1 million shares worth $540 million in the most recent quarter.

Mark Skousen, a descendent of Benjamin Franklin, meets with Paul Dykewicz.

EOG Resources Joins Seven Natural Gas Investments to Buy

The U.S. LNG inventory remains below its five-year average for this time of year by double-digit percentages, said Michelle Connell, CFA, president and owner of Portia Capital Management, of Dallas, Texas. A key issue for the U.S. LNG industry is that production of that commodity has never been profitable on its own, but it is as a byproduct of oil production, she added.

“There isn’t enough oil being produced,” Connell said. “Currently, only 11.6 million barrels/day are being produced. Pre-pandemic, we produced 13 million barrels/day.”

Instead of investing to expand capacity, oil companies have focused on hiking their dividends, Connell continued. If they pivot, these companies face a backlash from investors who could sell their shares and crush the market value of these companies, Connell added.

Former portfolio manager Michelle Connell, CEO, Portia Capital Management

EOG Resources Makes List of Seven Natural Gas Investments to Buy

LNG companies cannot boost production quickly, Connell cautioned. Oil companies need a minimum of six to eight months to increase their oil and LNG output, Connell added. 

Production of oil via shale recently created the largest share of the America’s natural gas reserves, Connell continued. Unfortunately for proponents of increasing output to meet rising demand, shale production has “decreased exponentially” since the pandemic began and the buildup of LNG reserves has slid, Connell counseled.

However, Houston-based EOG Resources Inc. (NYSE: EOG) is producing substantial amounts of oil via shale, and LNG. Its Chief Executive Officer Ezra Yacob called the company’s recent financial results “outstanding” and said 2021 was a “tremendous year” for EOG with record earnings, record free cash flow and return of cash that places it near industry leaders.

Income investors will appreciate that the company’s long-standing focus on free cash flow led to payment of another $1.00 per share special dividend while also strengthening its balance sheet.

Chart courtesy of www.stockcharts.com

Connell’s reasoning for favoring EOG includes: 

-Wall Street investment firms such as Wells Fargo and Raymond James raised future earnings estimates and target prices on EOG, despite strong performance so far in 2022;

-Based on its fundamentals and increased energy demand, the 12-month estimated upside has jumped from 25% to 35%;

-The company is on a roll with a gain of 14% in the past month, 45% so far in 2022 and 97% in the past 12 months.

Connell raised a concern about whether EOG is too generous with its dividend payouts that equal 27% of profits. She wondered aloud whether it is leaving enough cash for reinvestment.

Ukraine’s Counteroffensive Raises Questions about What’s Next

Ukraine launched a potent counterattack last weekend that reportedly allowed it to take back more than 2,317 sq. miles, or 6,000 sq. km., from Russia’s control. In the Kharkiv region, the towns of Izyum and Kupiansk were regained by Ukraine last Saturday after that they previously had been seized by Russia and used as key hubs to supply invading forces in the Donbas region.

Even though Russia still holds about one-fifth of Ukraine’s territory, the counterattack is showing that the defenders of freedom are gaining ground. Whether those lands can be retained or even enlarged will be critical to the ultimate outcome.

Inflation Affects Energy Pricing Significantly

Another uncertainty is inflation. The U.S. Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers rose 0.1% in August, on a seasonally adjusted basis, after no change in July, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. For the last 12 months, the index for all items jumped 8.3% before seasonal adjustments.

Increases in the shelter, food, and medical care indexes were the largest of the broad-based monthly all-items advance. These increases were mostly offset by a 10.6% decline in the gasoline index.

The food index rose 0.8% for the month, but the energy index fell 5.0% in August as the gasoline index dipped, while the electricity and natural gas indexes climbed. The index for all items, other than food and energy, jumped 0.6% in August, a larger rise than in July. 

The all-items index increased 8.3% for the 12 months ending in August, smaller than the 8.5% increase for the period ending July. The energy index increased 23.8% for the 12 months ending August, short of the 32.9% rise for the 12-month period ending in July.

U.S. COVID Cases Near 95.4 Million

COVID-19 cases and deaths can affect supply and demand for products such natural gas, especially since the fuel can be obtained worldwide. Investors are wise to monitor COVID-19 outbreaks and lockdowns that can cause supply chain problems. As of Sept. 12, more than 70 cities in China were under full or partial lockdown as the country enforces its policy of zero tolerance of cases, even as the morbidity has decreased compared to earlier stages of the virus.

U.S. COVID-19 deaths rose for the seventh consecutive week by more than 3,000, jumping to 1,051,277, as of Sept. 13, according to Johns Hopkins University. Cases in the United States climbed to 95,387,374. America remains the nation with the largest number of COVID-19 deaths and cases.

Worldwide COVID-19 deaths in the last week dipped to about 12,000, compared to 14,977 during the previous week and more than 33,000 the week before that one, to total 6,517,721, as of Sept. 13, according to Johns Hopkins. Global COVID-19 cases slowed to a gain of just below 3.4 million in the past week, down from almost 4 million from the previous week. The new worldwide case total is 609,577,548.

Roughly 79.2% of the U.S. population, or 263,103,582, have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, as of Sept. 7, the CDC reported. Fully vaccinated people total 224,367,691, or 67.6%, of the U.S. population, according to the CDC. The United States also has given at least one COVID-19 booster vaccine to 109.0 million people, up 200,000, compared to roughly 300,000 for the prior two weeks.

The seven natural gas investments to buy have strong potential to rise. With high inflation, recession risk after 0.75% rate hikes by the Fed in June and July, as well as possibly another in September, the seven natural gas investments to buy could fuel portfolios in the months ahead.

Paul Dykewicz, www.pauldykewicz.com, is an accomplished, award-winning journalist who has written for Dow Jones, the Wall Street JournalInvestor’s Business DailyUSA Today, the Journal of Commerce, Seeking Alpha, Guru Focus and other publications and websites. Paul, who can be followed on Twitter @PaulDykewicz, is the editor of StockInvestor.com and

DividendInvestor.com, a writer for both websites and a columnist. He further is editorial director of Eagle Financial Publications in Washington, D.C., where he edits monthly investment newsletters, time-sensitive trading alerts, free e-letters and other investment reports. Paul previously served as business editor of Baltimore’s Daily Record newspaper. Paul also is the author of an inspirational book, “Holy Smokes! Golden Guidance from Notre Dame’s Championship Chaplain,” with a foreword by former national championship-winning football coach Lou Holtz. The book is great as a gift and is endorsed by Joe Montana, Joe Theismann, Ara Parseghian, “Rocket” Ismail, Reggie Brooks, Dick Vitale and many othersCall 202-677-4457 for multiple-book pricing.

 

The post Seven Natural Gas Investments to Buy as Russia Slices Supply appeared first on Stock Investor.

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Government

Biden’s Secret Promise To OPEC Backfires: Shellenberger

Biden’s Secret Promise To OPEC Backfires: Shellenberger

Submitted by Michael Shellenberger,

In early September, United States Secretary of…

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Biden's Secret Promise To OPEC Backfires: Shellenberger

Submitted by Michael Shellenberger,

In early September, United States Secretary of Energy, Jennifer Granholm, told Reuters that President Joe Biden was considering extending the release of oil from America’s emergency stockpiles, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), through October, and thus beyond the date when the program had been set to end. But then, a few hours later, an official with the Department of Energy called Reuters and contradicted Granholm, saying that the White House was not, in fact, considering more SPR releases. Five days later, the White House said it was considering refilling the SPR, thereby proposing to do the exact opposite of what Granholm had proposed.

The hand of Russia's President Vladimir Putin (right) is now strengthened within the OPEC+ cartel controlled by Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (left), which today decided to cut production by 2 million barrels.

The confusion around the Biden administration’s petroleum policy was cleared up yesterday after a senior official revealed that the White House had made a secret offer to buy up to 200 million barrels of OPEC+ oil to replenish the SPR in exchange for OPEC+ not cutting oil production. The official said the White House wanted to reassure OPEC+ that the US “won’t leave them hanging dry.” The fact that this offer was made through the White House, not the Department of Energy, may explain why a representative of the Department called Reuters to take back the remarks of Granholm, who has shown herself to be out-of-the-loop, and at a loss for words, relating to key administration decisions relating to oil and gas production.

The revelation poses political risks for Democrats who, in the spring of 2020, killed a proposal by President Donald Trump to replenish the SPR with oil from American producers, not OPEC+ ones, and at a price of $24 a barrel, not the $80 a barrel that the Biden White House promised to OPEC+. At the time, Trump was seeking to stabilize the American oil industry after the Covid-19 pandemic massively reduced oil demand. Trump and Congressional Republicans proposed spending $3 billion to fill the SPR. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer successfully defeated the proposal, and later bragged that his party had blocked a “bailout for big oil.”

Even normally strong boosters of the Biden White House viewed the Democrats’ opposition to refilling the SPR as a major blunder. “That decision,” noted Bloomberg, “effectively cost the US billions in potential profits and meant Biden had tens of millions of fewer barrels at his disposal with which to counter price surges.” Moreover, observed Bloomberg, it will take significantly more oil today to fill the SPR than it would have two years ago. In spring 2020, the SPR contained 634 million barrels out of a capacity of 727 million. Now, the reserve is below 442 million barrels, its lowest level in 38 years.

The decision looks even worse in light of the decision by OPEC+ today to cut production, which will increase oil prices. The Biden administration in recent days has been pulling out the stops trying to persuade Saudi Arabia and other OPEC+ members, a group that includes Russia, to maintain today’s levels of oil production. Last Friday, the Biden administration sought a 45-day delay in a civil court proceeding over whether Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman should have sovereign immunity for the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, for which bin Salman has taken responsibility.

The behavior by the Biden White House displays a willingness to sacrifice America’s commitment to human rights for the president’s short-term political needs. Instead of pleading with OPEC+ to maintain or increase high levels of oil production, the Biden administration could have simply allowed for expanded domestic oil production. Instead, Biden has issued fewer leases for on-shore and off-shore oil production than any president since World War II. As such, the pleadings by Biden and administration officials have backfired. The perception of the U.S. in the minds of OPEC+ members has weakened while the influence of Russian President Vladimir Putin has strengthened.

Why is that? Why did the Biden administration decide to spend so much political capital trying, and failing, to get Saudi Arabia and other OPEC+ members to expand production when it could have simply expanded oil production domestically? What, exactly, is going on?

President Joe Biden greets the Saudi Crown Prince on July 15, 2022.

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Tyler Durden Thu, 10/06/2022 - 22:20

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Government

What Really Divides America

What Really Divides America

Authored by Joel Kotkin via UnHerd.com,

The Midterms aren’t a battle between good and evil…

Reading the…

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What Really Divides America

Authored by Joel Kotkin via UnHerd.com,

The Midterms aren't a battle between good and evil...

Reading the mainstream media, one would be forgiven for believing that the upcoming midterms are part of a Manichaean struggle for the soul of democracy, pitting righteous progressives against the authoritarian “ultra-MAGA” hordes. The truth is nothing of the sort. Even today, the vast majority of Americans are moderate and pragmatic, with fewer than 20% combined for those identifying as either “very conservative” or “very liberal”. The apocalyptic ideological struggle envisioned by the country’s elites has little to do with how most Americans actually live and think. For most people, it is not ideology but the powerful forces of class, race, and geography that determine their political allegiances — and how they will vote come November.

Of course, it is the business of both party elites — and their media allies — to make the country seem more divided than it is. To avoid talking about the lousy economy, Democrats have sought to make the election about abortion and the alleged “threat to democracy” posed by “extremist” Republicans. But recent polls suggest that voters are still more concerned with economic issues than abortion. The warnings about extremism, meanwhile, are tough to take seriously, given that Democrats spent some $53 million to boost far-Right candidates in Republican primaries.

Republicans are contributing to the problem in their own way, too. Rather than offering any substantive governing vision of their own, they assume that voters will be repelled by unpopular progressive policies such as defunding the police, encouraging nearly unlimited illegal immigration, and promoting sexual and gender “fluidity” to schoolchildren. They ignore, of course, the fact that their own embrace of fundamentalist morality on abortion is also widely rejected by the populace. And even Right-leaning voters may doubt the sanity of some of the GOP’s eccentric candidates this November.

In short, both major parties stoke polarisation, the primary beneficiaries of which are those parties’ own political machines. But most Americans broadly want the same things: safety, economic security, a post-pandemic return to normalcy, and an end to dependence on China. Their divisions are based not so much on ideology but on the real circumstances of their everyday life.

The most critical, yet least appreciated, of these circumstances is class. America has long been celebrated as the “land of opportunity”, yet for working and middle-class people in particular, opportunity is increasingly to come by. With inflation elevated and a recession seemingly on the horizon, pocketbook issues are likely to become even more important in the coming months. According to a NBC News poll, for instance, nearly two-thirds of Americans say their pay check is falling behind the cost of living, and the Republicans hold a 19-point advantage over the Democrats on the economy.

A downturn could also benefit the Left eventually. As the American Prospect points out, proletarianised members of the middle class are increasingly shopping at the dollar stores that formerly served working and welfare populations. Labour, a critical component of the Democratic coalition, could be on the verge of a generational surge, with unionisation spreading to fast food retailers, Amazon warehouses, and Starbucks.

To take advantage of a resurgent labour movement, however, Democrats will have to move away from what Democratic strategist James Carville scathingly calls  “faculty lounge politics”: namely, their obsession with gender, race, and especially climate. For instance, by demanding “net zero” emissions on a tight deadline, without developing the natural gas and nuclear production needed to meet the country’s energy needs, progressives run the risk of inadvertently undermining the American economy. Ill-advised green policies will be particularly devastating for the once heavily Democratic workers involved in material production sectors like energy, agriculture, manufacturing, warehousing, and logistics.

To win in the coming election and beyond, Democrats need to focus instead on basic economic concerns such as higher wages, affordable housing, and improved education. They also need to address the roughly half of all small businesses reporting that inflation could force them into bankruptcy. Some progressives believe that climate change will doom the Republicans, but this is wishful thinking. According to Gallup, barely 3% of voters name environmental issues as their top concern.

Racial divides are also important — though not in the way that media hysterics about “white supremacy” would lead you to believe. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s decision to fly undocumented immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard was undoubtedly a political stunt, and one arguably in poor taste. But it succeeded in its main goal: highlighting the enormous divide between the border states affected by illegal immigration and the bastions of white progressivism who tend to favour it.

Under Biden, the Democrats have essentially embraced “open borders” — illegal crossings are at record levels, and few of the migrants who make it across the border are ever required to leave. This policy reflects a deep-seated belief among elite Democrats that a more diverse, less white population works to their political favour. Whether they are right to think so, however, is far from clear. Black people still overwhelmingly back the Democrats, but Asians (the fastest-growing minority) and Latinos (the largest) are more evenly divided, and have been drifting toward the Republicans in recent years.

Here, too, class is a key factor. Many middle and upper-class minorities are on board with the Democrats’ anti-racist agenda. But many working-class Hispanics and Asians have more basic concerns. After all,  notes former Democratic Strategist Ruy Teixiera, these are the people most affected by inflation, rising crime, poor schools, and threats to their livelihoods posed by draconian green policies.

Culture too plays a role. Immigrants, according to one recent survey, are twice as conservative in their social views than the general public and much more so than second generation populations of their own ethnicity. Like most Americans, they largely reject the identity politics central to the current Democratic belief system. Immigrants and other minorities also tend to be both more religious than whites; new sex education standards have provoked opposition from the Latino, Asian, African American and Muslim communities.

The final dividing line is geography, always a critical factor in American politics. For decades, the country seemed to become dominated by the great metropolitan areas of the coasts, with their tech and finance-led economies. But even before the pandemic, the coastal centres were losing their demographic and economic momentum and seeing their political influence fade. In 1960, for example, New York boasted more electoral votes than Texas and Florida combined. Today, both have more electoral votes than the Empire State. Last year, New York, California, and Illinois lost more people to outmigration than any other states. The greatest gains were in Florida, Texas, Arizona, and North Carolina. These states are high-growth, fertile, and lean toward the GOP.Likewise, regional trends suggest that elections will be decided in lower density areas; suburbs alone are  home to at least 40% of all House seats. Some of these voters may be refugees from blue areas who still favour the Democrats. But lower-density areas, which also tend to have the highest fertility rates, tend to be dominated by family concerns like inflation, public education and safety, issues that for now favour Republicans.

Put the battle between Good and Evil to one side. It is these three factors — class, race, geography — that will shape the outcome of the midterms, whatever the media says. The endless kabuki theatre pitting Trump and his minions against Democrats may delight and enrage America’s elites — but for the American people, it is still material concerns that matter.

Tyler Durden Thu, 10/06/2022 - 21:40

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International

Switzerland, Not USA, Is The ‘Most Innovative’ Country In The World

Switzerland, Not USA, Is The ‘Most Innovative’ Country In The World

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has released its 2022…

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Switzerland, Not USA, Is The 'Most Innovative' Country In The World

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has released its 2022 Global Innovation Index. It evaluated innovation levels across 132 economies focusing on a long list of criteria such as human capital, institutions, technology and creative output as well as market and business sophistication, among others.

The 2022 index has found that innovation is still blossoming in some sectors despite the global economic slowdown and coronavirus pandemic, especially in industries to do with public health and the environment.

As Statista's Katharina Buchholz reports, Switzerland topped the rankings with a score of 64.6 out of 100, the 12th time it has been named the world leader in innovation. The United States come second while the Sweden rounds off the top three.

You will find more infographics at Statista

One of the biggest winners of the ranking was South Korea, which climbed up from rank 10 in 2020 to rank 6 in 2022.

China is now the world's 11th most innovative nation, up from rank 14 in 2020 and 2019 and rank 17 in 2018.

China was also named the most innovative upper middle-income country ahead of Bulgaria (overall rank 35), while India (overall rank 40) came first for lower middle-income countries, followed by Vietnam (overall rank 48).

Notably, China is now on a par with the United States in terms of the number of top 100 Science & Technology clusters

Finally, WIPO notes that on the one hand, science and innovation investments continued to surge in 2021, performing strongly even at the height of a once in a century pandemic. On the other hand, even as the pandemic recedes, storm clouds remain overhead, with increasing supply-chain, energy, trade and geopolitical stresses.

Tyler Durden Thu, 10/06/2022 - 20:40

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