Question of the Day|
Do you think the administration has been effective? A. Yes B. No C. Somewhat
This week the biggest news out of Washington will be President Obama's updated battle against global warming. It's not enough to win the counterfactual war that the administration saved America from a Great Depression, but how about saving the entire planet from Armageddon! Just a week after China agreed to buy $270 billion worth of oil from Russia over the next 25 years, America is ready to stick a knife into the ailing coal industry while teeing up regulations that will severely hamper natural gas. When the deal is announced, up to 280 coal-fired units could be forced closed, taking more than 40,000 megawatts of power offline.
If you think it's going to be replaced by wind and solar you are greatly mistaken. The coal plants affected by the unleashing of the EPA are mostly in the following states:
> West Virginia
> North Carolina
Those states have no solar or wind projects in the works, and it really wouldn't make a difference since only 3,000 megawatts of power is in the offing for all solar projects. Moreover, these projects have come at an immense expense to taxpayers while yielding very few benefits. It's mostly crony capitalism at its best. Take for instance the Topaz Solar project in California. After being penciled in for $1.9 billion in Department of Energy loan guarantees, a series of critical management mistakes caused the loan to be pulled ... in steps Mr. Buffett.
Warren Buffett and his Mid America Energy bought out ownership from First Solar and cut a 24 year deal with Pacific Gas and Electric to purchase overpriced solar power at above market prices. PG&E has no choice since California has mandated utilities must generate one third of electricity from renewable sources by 2020. This mandate is another tax on ratepayers, including taxpayers and home and business owners.
In fact, it is estimated the sweetheart deal California Valley struck with the state will result in PG&E paying $463 million above rate over the lifetime of its existence. This project received a $1.2 billion federal loan guarantee and will have to pay no property tax. So, when President Obama says electricity has to go higher to fulfill his goal it wasn't a lie. On the contrary, this is going to be extraordinarily painful to average Americans. So, what are the benefits? The industry will tell you solar savings around the world have thus far been equivalent to taking 1.1 million cars off the road and planting 138.3 million trees.
Before we dethrone Johnny Appleseed, let's be clear, no trees have been planted and not a single car has been replaced.
The biggest insult is the lack of permanent jobs being created from all our taxpayer dollars ... or, as the White House calls it: "investment."Current solar projects, manufacturing, bio fuels, and wind development cost American taxpayers $17.2 billion and will yield a grand total of 1,188 permanent jobs.
We're greeted this morning with typical angst that now seems to plague the market mostly as a reflection of frustration rather than fear. Sure, you can argue the stock market has come too far too fast but this is a larger problem. It's really about leadership. With western economies mostly giving up on the ability of elected leaders to generate prosperity there is enormous pressure to either steal it through taxes (a very short term solution) or through money printing (another short term solution). Asian leaders are also grappling with the notion of near term appeasement that comes with the risk of longer term disasters.
For now 14,995 on the Dow is important resistance, and until the index closes above that point, the market remains vulnerable. Emotions are in control right now, and it's critical to have strong fundamental reasons for owning individual stocks. Gold is crashing, reflecting a reality of deflation and that's the worst thing that could happen for any economy or central bank. I just don't see the Fed making any changes this year to its asset purchases, but Ben may want to see just how much risk there is toward eventually making adjustments.