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Europe’s Energy Crisis Is A Warning Sign For America

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An energy crisis is rocking the world, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the 1970s. Although headlines about energy costs in faraway nations may not breach busy families’ political radar, the energy shortages and skyrocketing prices spreading across Europe and Asia are a warning sign for America.

If we allow the anti-energy, anti-prosperity climate cartel to control the political process—if Green New Deal-style policies become reality—our nation’s future will be dire indeed.

In Britain, electricity reserves could fall to as low as 4 percent of demand, with blackouts this winter all but inevitable, and petrol stations continue to sit empty. India’s “unprecedented” coal shortage has officials warning of impending power cuts as coal plants that normally carry 15 to 30 days’ reserves—and power most of the nation—now have enough fuel for two days or less.

Even China, an energy and economic powerhouse, is being forced to halt production of everything from aluminum to soybeans, further worsening global supply chain issues and potentially threatening the world’s food supply.

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And this crisis isn’t limited to countries that actively embrace fossil fuels. Even Germany, decades into its unsuccessful Energiewende transition to renewable energy and supposedly a world leader in green power, is feeling the crunch. One German power plant completely ran out of coal. All those eggs in the renewable basket still weren’t enough to insulate Germany—which, despite its bombastic commitment to wind and solar, still gets most of its energy from fossil fuels—from energy shortages and skyrocketing prices.

Germans already pay the highest electricity prices in the European Union, and residents are now warned to expect rising gas bills, too.

The consequences of these energy shortages aren’t as simple as just paying a little bit more for energy. If only it were that simple.

Britain is warning its subjects to expect not only blackouts, but also energy prices rising by as much as 30 percent. This is a steep cost for even well-to-do families, let alone low-income and fixed-income households in a nation already wracked by energy poverty. Freezing deaths are on the rise in England, where over 3,000 people die needlessly every year because they can’t afford to keep their homes at a safe temperature in the winter. Studies confirm a direct correlation between rising natural gas prices and wintertime deaths.

Brits are unfortunately learning firsthand the little-known climate fact that cold is far, far deadlier than heat. And they won’t be the last country to acquire this lesson if this energy crisis isn’t stopped.

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The United States hasn’t been hit hard by this crisis, but it’s only a matter of time. Though gas prices are high, so are the prices for everything else, and the precarious nature of our nation’s energy independence is still unknown to many. But if our nation capitulates to pressure by climate alarmists to kill the American energy industry, we’ll be headed down the same path as Europe and Asia.

The threat doesn’t just come from political leaders, although President Joe Biden’s continued campaign against responsible American energy producers is a major challenge. The rise of discriminatory environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing—in which Wall Street firms make investment and lending choices based on political motivations—means many major banks no longer fund oil and gas exploration even if the investment would be lucrative. There are now half as many oil rigs operating as there were in 2018 even though the price per barrel is almost equal, largely due to financial pressure from Wall Street.

Many energy companies are unable to get the capital they need to continue operating. This doesn’t mean we stop using fossil fuels; it simply means we’re forced to import more from overseas companies that don’t share America’s environmental or human rights commitments. Ironically, the growing anti-fossil fuel campaign means we will have more pollution and more greenhouse gas emissions—but less prosperity for our nation.

The more our society penalizes American energy producers, the more challenging our country’s future will be. We have the power to give America a prosperous future, if we embrace the fuels that have helped our nation become a beacon of hope for the world.

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Investors brace for potential hit to earnings because of Omicron

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December 6, 2021

By Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK (Reuters) – As details of a new COVID-19 variant emerge, investors are bracing for a potential hit to U.S. corporate earnings, particularly among retailers, restaurants and travel companies.

News of the Omicron variant comes in the middle of the holiday shopping period, and many businesses are already struggling with higher inflation and supply chain snags because of the pandemic.

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That is putting the focus again on these companies affected by the reopening of the economy, said Kristina Hooper, chief global market strategist at Invesco in New York.

“Are we still going to see traffic into restaurants and retailers, or at least retailers that derive most of their revenue from in-store traffic as opposed to online?” she said. “The other area of vulnerability of course is supply chain disruptions.”

She and other strategists said it’s too early to tell the extent to which the variant could affect earnings.

The Omicron variant that captured global attention in South Africa less than two weeks ago has spread to about one-third of U.S. states, but the Delta version accounts for the majority of COVID-19 infections as cases rise nationwide, U.S. health officials said on Sunday.

Goldman Sachs on Saturday cited risks and uncertainty around the emergence of the Omicron variant as it cut its outlook for U.S. economic growth to 3.8% for 2022. While the variant could slow economic reopening, the firm expects “only a modest drag” on service spending, it said in a note.

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U.S. companies have just wrapped up a much stronger-than-expected third-quarter earnings season, and the rate of fourth-quarter earnings year-over-year growth has been expected to be well below the previous quarter’s.

Analysts see fourth-quarter S&P 500 earnings up 21.6% from the year-ago quarter, while third-quarter earnings growth was at about 43%, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

That fourth-quarter forecast has not changed since Nov. 26, just after the new variant became headline news.

Omicron may be affecting travel plans. Airline shares have already come under pressure, with the NYSE Arca airline index down 8.3% since the close of the session before Nov. 26.

For companies, “the significance of the impact will depend on how long the Omicron measures last,” said Peter Tuz, president of Chase Investment Counsel in Charlottesville, Virginia. “There will be some short-term impact… It’ll surely cause some short-term disruption to travel.”

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Colin Scarola, a vice president of equity research at CFRA, wrote in a Dec. 2 note on the airline sector that while details of the variant are still emerging, trends in U.S. air travel over recent months with the Delta variant may give some insight into what could happen to travel under the Omicron variant.

“This recent history tells us that most people have already accepted the material risk of infection with a Covid-19 variant when fully vaccinated. But knowing that risk of severe illness remains very low, they’ve been comfortable flying on airplanes,” he wrote.

Compounding concerns about the 2022 earnings outlook are higher costs for companies, with Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell last week signaling that inflation risks are rising and numerous companies citing rising costs during the third-quarter earnings season.

Even before the Omicron news, Tuz said investors were reading “more and more about inflation and wages and other inputs,” and that was expected to continue into 2022.

“I don’t know if the ability to pass along these higher costs is going to exist as much,” he said.

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(Reporting by Caroline Valetkevitch; Editing by Alden Bentley and Nick Zieminski)

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Bank investment chiefs signal China and emerging market caution

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December 6, 2021

LONDON (Reuters) -Market volatility and uncertainty over China’s indebted property sector is making bank investment chiefs cautious about its assets, amid more general nervousness about broader emerging markets.

“I would take a wait-and-see approach on emerging markets,” Credit Suisse global chief investment officer Michael Strobaek told the Reuters annual Investment Outlook Summit.

“I would take a day-by-day, week-by-week approach to China, to see what’s unfolding on the default side and the policy side,” he said, referring to problems in the country’s giant corporate debt sector.

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“Only if I see real deep opportunities, I’d go back in.”

Willem Sels, Global CIO, Private Banking & Wealth Management, HSBC, said clients needed to take a longer term view on emerging markets after many were hurt by recent volatility.

“We have a neutral view on China, we try to diversify,” he said.

“We try to get the confidence of investing in China. We try to align ourselves with what is clear in terms of government policy, and that’s the net zero transmission.”

Investors can still “find some winners” in China by digging down into areas like green tech and 5G-related businesses where the government was showing significant support, said Mark Haefele, CIO at UBS Global Wealth Management.

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(Reporting by Tommy Wilkes, Sujata Rao and Dhara Ranasinghe; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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IMF says euro zone should keep supporting economy, high inflation is temporary

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December 6, 2021

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Euro zone governments should continue to spend to support the COVID-19 economic recovery, though in an increasingly focused way, and consolidate public finances only when it is firmly under way, the International Monetary Fund said on Monday.

In a regular report on the euro zone economy presented to the group’s finance ministers, the IMF noted, however, that while consolidation itself could wait, a credible way of how it would be done in the future should be announced already now.

“Policies should remain accommodative but become increasingly targeted, with a focus on mitigating potential rises in inequality and poverty,” the IMF said.

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“Fiscal policy space should be rebuilt once the expansion is firmly underway, but credible medium-term consolidation plans should be announced now,” it said.

The Fund also noted that the rise in inflation, which hit a record high of 4.9% on a year-on-year basis in November, was temporary and, therefore, not a big threat because it did not translate into a spike in wages, called a second-round effect.

“Recent inflation readings have surprised on the upside, but much of the increase still appears transitory, with large second-round effects unlikely,” the report said, adding that the European Central Bank’s monetary policy should therefore continue to be accommodative.

“Structural reforms and high-impact investment, including in climate-friendly infrastructure and digitalization, remain crucial to enhancing resilience and boosting potential growth,” the IMF said.

(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski; Editing by Paul Simao)

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