Links for the Week Ending 9th June

  • One of my favourite commentators on energy markets is Robert Rapier from R Squared. His latest post is on the outlook for the oil price over the coming year. In particular, he urges caution on those who expect oil to now enter a full-fledged bear market. Currently, new oil production has to replace both the 4 to 5 million barrels per day lost per annum due to depletion at existing fields plus cover increasing demand from developing nations. This is not an environment conducive to the building of enough spare capacity to push oil prices down significantly.
  • The IMF has issued an ex-post evaluation of its policy decisions with respect to its involvement in the 2010 and 2012 debt bailouts (here). Personally, I think the decision to force the state to take over private sector debt was a mistake. The debtors should have been allowed to default, and then the state backstop creditors that posed systemic risks. Instead, the austerity being forced on Greece to service the bloated public debt has created a zombie economy.
  • One climate scientist I follow quite closely is Oxford’s Myles Allen, who has been at the centre of the carbon budget approach to climate change. Carbon budgets allow us to estimate how much fossil fuel we can burn before we tip into dangerous climate change. The trillion tonne indicator, which is inspired by his work, can be found here. Nonetheless, in recent days Allen has been popping up in the UK press pushing carbon capture and storage (CCS) as a panacea for our climate change challenge (see here and here). I really don’t see the logic. How on earth are we going to institute an obligatory global CCS programme for an untried technology when the world has been incapable of agreeing on either a carbon tax, or a working cap and trade programme, or a comprehensive push toward renewables. In other words, he suggests we move from fostering renewable energy generation, which rests on established technologies, to promoting CCS, which is totally unproven on a commercial scale. Bizarre.
  • A few years ago, Ugo Bardi (a Chemistry Professor who blogs at Cassandra’s Legacy) wrote a fabulous book called “The Limits to Growth Revisited“. The book punctuated a lot of myths surrounding the original “Limits to Growth” report to the Club of Rome published in the early 1970s. Bardi now has a new report out, also for the Club of Rome, called “Plundering the Planet“.
  • Via Barry Ritholtz’s The Big Picture, John Mauldin has a good piece on Abenomics. I don’t always agree with Mauldin, but in this case I think his analysis gets to the core of Japan’s economic problems: demographics. I recently wrote of this theme myself (starting here) as I see Japan as the post-growth path finder for much of the developed world.

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