Jim Rogers: What Peak Oil Will Do for Cotton

The most recent issue of Fortune has an excellent interview with Jim Rogers, of Investment Biker and Adventure Capitalist fame, as well as an excerpt from is new book, A Bull in China.  Jim saw the start of the current commodities supercycle early (peak oil is just one driving force for this cycle), but it still has a long way to run, in my opinion, as well as Jim's.   Almost everything has some dependence on energy prices, because of either the embodied energy, or because if the embodied energy of substitutes.   As Jim says in the interview, ...

Oil’s Sesquicentennial; the Dream Becomes Nightmare

John Petersen On August 27th, we'll celebrate the 150th anniversary of Colonel Edwin Drake's completion of the world's first successful oil well near Titusville, Pennsylvania. That discovery and the many that followed planted the seeds of an industrial, economic and cultural revolution that transformed America from an agrarian backwater into a global superpower. For the next 114 years, oil was cheap, plentiful and the solid bedrock of the American Dream. Since the early '70s, however, the dream has gradually become a nightmare as domestic and global oil production began an irreversible decline. My first graph comes...

What Will the Oil Spill Do For Oil Sands Stocks?

Bill Paul Will shares of the oil companies that are major players in Canada’s tar sands region rise or fall? Logically, shares should rise in the wake of the deepwater drilling moratorium ordered by President Obama following the BP (BP) oil spill, as Wall Street begins to reflect on the fact that Alberta’s tar sands region is the second biggest crude-oil deposit in the world. Even before the spill, a report from IHS CERA had concluded that Canadian tar sands would be the single biggest source of US crude imports in 2010. Just as logically, however, shares should...
The cost of Fossil Fuels to pensions

New York State Pension $ 22 Billion Poorer By Not Divesting 10 Years Ago

Research firm Corporate Knights revealed that the pension fund would be $22 billion richer had it divested from fossil fuel stocks in 2008. That's almost $20,000 for of each of the pension fund’s 1.1 million members & retirees. A new in-depth analysis by the research firm Corporate Knights, shows that New York State pension fund would be $22 billion richer had it divested from fossil fuel stocks 10 years ago. That works out to almost $20,000 for of each of the pension fund’s 1.1 million members and retirees. To perform their analysis, Corporate Knights looked at the stock holdings of the pension fund in...

The Best Peak Oil Investments, Part VII: Peak Substitutes?

Tom Konrad CFA There are two types of solutions to the liquid fuels scarcity caused by stagnating (and eventually falling) oil supplies combined with growing demand in emerging economies.  The most obvious is to find a substitute to replace oil.  Supply constraints limit the full replacement of oil by most potential substitutes.  Understanding those constraints leads us to the investment opportunities that arise from these substitutes.  Increasing demand and constrained supply of oil is fueling the search for oil substitutes to use in its place.  Unfortunately, almost all of these potential substitutes also have limited...

Divesting: Last One Out Loses

Tom Konrad CFA Anew report written by Nathaniel Bullard at Bloomberg New Energy Finance highlights the difficulties large institutional investors would have divesting from fossil fuels. What it does not specifically discuss is that these difficulties could lead to large financial losses for investors who see the difficulty of divesting as a reason to delay. Just as we can't easily fill up our cars with solar power instead of gasoline, the report points out that there is no asset class that can directly substitute for oil and gas in large institutional portfolios. A person...

Oil & Alt Energy Redux

Charles Morand Last week, I conducted an analysis showing the lack of evidence supporting claims that oil and alt energy returns are strongly correlated (claims that sometimes come from outfits as reputable as Bank of America Merrill Lynch).     I don't want to belabor this topic but I thought I would post the results of another, similar analysis I conducted following comments I received on how to improve the first one. In a nutshell, the comments suggested I do the following: 1) Look at daily correlations or even smaller periods, as "common knowledge" market...

Betting Against Shale Natural Gas Plays

Green Energy Investing For Experts, Part III Tom Konrad, CFA Controversy continues to grow about the economic viability of shale gas.  Investors who doubt the companies' claims should consider buying puts. The Case for Gas From the perspective of a green energy investor, natural gas is the most benign fossil fuel.  Natural gas emits less carbon than other fossil fuels (slightly more than half as much as coal, when used for electricity generation.)  Natural gas turbines also can quickly compensate for fluctuating supply and demand from other sources of electricity.  This quick response makes them a natural complement...

De-Carbonizing Electricity – Will King Coal Finally Be Dethroned?

Charles Morand Last Friday, the WSJ's Environmental Capital blog noted how, according to HSBC, growing government efforts to de-carbonize the electricity supply across the developed world would hurt makers of power generation technology with high exposure to coal. Yesterday, the EIA released its Electric Power Monthly report for April 2009. In it, the agency notes the following: The drop in coal-fired generation was the largest absolute fuel-specific decline from April 2008 to April 2009 as it fell by 20,551 thousand megawatthours, or 13.9 percent  The April decline was the third consecutive month of historically large drops...

So Much for Peak Demand – try 134mb/d by 2030

No peak demand Eamon Keane "So much for peak demand - try 134mb/d by 2030."  That was the startling conclusion dispatched from the ivory tower recently by Joyce Dargay, a British transport econometrics professor, and Dermot Gately, an American economics professor. I'll present their conclusions and then discuss the implications. Their report is available here (pdf). The main conclusion is that the low hanging oil fruit has already been picked after the 1970's oil shocks. From 1978-85 OECD fuel oil consumption dropped by 7mb/d and then from 2003-2008 by another 2mb/d. The...

Oil Prices & Alternative Energy Stocks

The recent slump in the price of energy commodities that has accompanied slumps in the rest of the market has reignited an old debate: to what extent is the performance of alt energy companies (and their stock prices) linked to fossil energy prices? People who argue that the two are closely connected implicitly believe that policy-makers and other important economic actors view alt energy mainly as a hedge against high energy prices, and therefore believe that a drop in fossil energy costs will result in a fall from grace for alt energy (there is evidence that at least...
green swan

Green swan, Black swan: No matter as long as it reduces stranded spending

by Prashant Vaze, The Climate bonds Initiative In January, authors from several institutions under the aegis of BiS, published The Green Swan Central banking and financial stability in the age of climate change setting out their take on the epistemological foundations for, and obstacles against, central banks acting to mitigate climate change risk. The book’s early chapters provide a cogent and up-to-date analysis of climate change’s profound and irreversible impacts on ecosystems and society. The authors are critical of overly simplistic solutions such as relying on just carbon taxes. They also recognize the all-too-evident deficits in global policy to respond to the threat. In short, they accept the need for central banks to act. The Two Arguments  The paper makes two powerful arguments setting out the challenges central banks face using their usual mode of working. Firstly, climate change’s impact on financial systems is an unknowable unknown – a...

Should Coal Company Investors Breathe Easy After Copenhagen?

Green Energy Investing For Experts, Part V Tom Konrad, CFA A global climate deal in Copenhagen would have been bad for coal miners, and coal companies have been rallying as the economy recovers, but it may not be clear skies for the black rock. In the battle to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, coal is enemy number one.  The global disarray in Copenhagen can only be good for coal mining companies, and they duly rallied when the climate talks ended with little to show for it.  Yet carbon emissions are not the only black mark on the coal...

Crude Oil & Alt Energy: The Non-Relationship That Just Won’t Go Away

Charles Morand The relationship - or lack thereof - between oil prices and the performance of alt energy stocks has been a long-time interest of mine. I discussed it last in late March when I looked at correlations between the daily returns of alt energy and fossil energy ETFs. At the time, I found that only a weak relationship existed between the two and that if someone wanted to make a thematic investment play on Peak Oil, alt energy ETFs were not an ideal way to do so.  Seeing as the popular press and countless "experts"...

Do You Need To Invest In Oil To Benefit From Expensive Oil?

Two months ago, Tom told us how he'd dipped a toe into the black stuff (i.e. bought the OIL etf) on grounds that current supply destruction related to the depressed price of crude oil would eventually lead to the same kind of supply-demand crunch that led oil to spike during the 2004 to mid-2008 period. If you need evidence that the current price of crude is wreaking havoc in the world of oil & gas exploration, look no further than Alberta and its oil sands. The oil sands contain the second largest oil reserves in the world after...

Cleantech Economics 101: Higher Fossil Fuel Prices; More Cleantech

David Gold With all the complexities of cleantech policy and technologies, there is only one simple thing needed for an explosion of competitive clean technologies – increased price of fossil fuels. The amount of R&D expenditures that will need to be invested in clean technology in order for it to hurdle the bar into competitiveness is much greater with low fossil fuel prices. And, the lower those prices, the less appetite the private sector has for making such investments. This leaves a much-increased burden on the back of government through grants and subsidies– a back that is...