Interest Rate Rises will Trigger Renewable Business Collapses

By Eric Worrall – Re-Blogged From http://www.WattsUpWithThat.com

h/t Willie Soon – the President of Spanish Energy Giant Iberdrola has suggested interest rate rises will wipe out large numbers of highly leveraged “unskilled” renewables businesses.

Iberdrola chief says global renewable sector facing Enron-style endgame

Ignacio Sánchez Galán, Presidente de Iberdrola

Ignacio Sánchez Galán, Presidente de Iberdrola. By Pabloherreros (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons


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A New Year Brings Familiar Challenges for the EU

Re-Blogged From Stratfor

Highlights

  • In 2018 the European Union will try to close the free trade agreements it has been negotiating in recent years and to sign new deals with additional countries.
  • The European Union will continue pressuring Russia to cooperate on a solution for the conflict in Ukraine but will be reluctant to increase its sanctions on Moscow.
  • Initiatives to cooperate with the countries migrants hail from and travel through will be easier to approve than will plans to reform the bloc’s rules on migration.

The EU flag flies over the stock exchange building in Brussels.

(sharrocks/iStock)

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Paris Agreement Architect Calls the End of Coal – in the Middle of a Coal Rush

By Eric Worrall – Re-Blogged From http://www.WattsUpWithThat.com

Former UNFCCC secretary Christiana Figueres, architect of the Paris Agreement, has called Australia’s planned giant new coal mine a “Kodak moment”, a doomed investment in a superseded technology, right in the middle of an unprecedented global rush to new coal capacity.

The ‘Kodak moment’ for coal, and why the Adani mine could be a financial disaster

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Fragmenting Countries, Part 1: Catalonia Is Just The Beginning

By John Rubino – Re-Blogged From Dollar Collapse

Picture a life where you do most of your shopping through Amazon.com and the local farmers’ market, most of your communicating through Facebook and Instagram, much of your travel via Uber, and much of your saving and transacting with bitcoin, gold and silver.

Do you really need an immense, distant, and rapacious central government? Maybe not. Perhaps your region or ethnic group would be better off forming its own independent country.

This question is being asked — and answered — in a growing number of places where distinct cultures and ethnic groups within larger nations now see their government as more burden than benefit. The result: Secession movements are moving from the fringe to mainstream.

In just the past couple of weeks, Iraqi Kurdistan and Spain’s Catalonia declared their independence. Neither succeeded, but the fact that they felt free to try illustrates how times have changed.

This is fascinating on a lot of levels, but why discuss it on a gloom-and-doom finance blog? Because secession is about the messiest event a country can experience short of civil war. And few things are more financially disruptive for an already over-leveraged society than potential dissolution.

Today’s fiat currencies depend for their value on the belief that the governments managing them are coherent and competent. Let a major region break away and plunge a debtor country into political/civil chaos and the markets will abandon its currency in a heartbeat. Note the sense of panic in the following article:

EU TURMOIL: Finland preparing to go against Spain and RECOGNISE Catalonia’s independence

(Express) – FINLAND could be the first country to officially recognise Catalonia as a republic state, in a move that would put the Scandinavian country in direct opposition to the European Union (EU).

The country’s MP for Lapland Mikko Karna has said that he intends to submit a motion to the Finnish parliament recognising the new fledgling country.

Mr Karna, who is part of the ruling Centre Party, led by Prime Minister Juha Sipila, also sent his congratulations to Catalonia after the regional parliament voted earlier today on breaking away from the rest of Spain.

Should Finland officially recognise the new state of Catalonia this will be yet another body blow to the the EU which has firmly backed the continuation of a unified Spain under the control of Madrid.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned today that “cracks” were appearing in the bloc due to the seismic events in Catalonia that were causing ruptures through the bloc.

Mr Juncker spoke in favour of unity. He said: “I do not want a situation where, tomorrow, the European Union is made up of 95 different states. We need to avoid splits, because we already have enough splits and fractures and we do not need any more.”

The Scottish Government has also sent a message of support, saying that Catalonia “must have” the ability to determine their own future.

Scotland, of course, is itself considering secession from the UK, which recently voted to leave the European Union.

The political class, meanwhile, is trying to figure out where it went wrong. See the New York Times’ recent What Is a Nation in the 21st Century?

If the combination of long-term financial mismanagement and sudden technological change really has made large, multi-cultural nations dispensable, then some of them are going to fragment. This in turn will contribute to the failure of the fiat currency/fractional reserve banking system that’s ruining global finance. Poetic justice for sure, but of an extremely messy kind.

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Globalism in the Eyes of Two Beholders

By Rodger Baker – Re-Blogged From https://worldview.stratfor.com

The relative peace and prosperity in Europe may have shaped an idealistic approach to globalism.

The world over, the topic of globalism rarely fails to elicit a strongly held opinion. At its extreme in Europe, the march of globalization is accepted as a near-inevitability: In that view, it is no longer merely a path that should be taken, but the inexorable destination of humanity. As such, there is little room for assessing, much less understanding, alternative perceptions about the structure of the world, either internationally or domestically. Whether talking with a German economist, a British investor or an expatriate businessman in Spain, there is a near-bewilderment as to why anyone would want to pursue nationalism over globalism. As such, the bump in popularity for the Alternative for Germany party, the independence referendum in Catalonia and the Brexit are all seen as anti-historical trends. To them, the European Union remains the moral and political compass for the world, the guiding principle upon which the nation-state will be subsumed and a new global society will emerge.

In Asia, globalization is seen as a potential path, but not an inevitable one, and is viewed more often in economic than political terms. The nation-state firmly remains the unit of political and social organization, and while there are numerous initiatives to enhance cooperation among national entities, there is little movement toward the creation of a pan-national umbrella along the lines of the European Union. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), one of the most aggressive Asian attempts at pan-national cooperation, explicitly promotes a policy of noninterference in national politics, recognizing the very different systems in each member country, rather than seeking to replace them with a regionwide political and economic structure.

Over the past 12 months, I have engaged with business leaders, government officials, researchers and members of the media in London, Berlin, Paris, Rome, Barcelona and The Hague, and in Auckland, Seoul, Beijing, Hong Kong and Singapore. Over the course of those discussions, a distinct difference in worldview between the “elites” of Europe and those of Asia became apparent. I use the word elite loosely here to describe the thin layer of society with the economic and social freedom to observe and assess the world in a manner disconnected from daily life. These are the economists, political scientists and bankers, the pundits, heads of major corporations, politicians and journalists. Their views shape much of the popular narrative, but one that often misses the underlying realities and beliefs held by a large portion of the societies in which they reside.

Now, all such broad-brush assessments are, by their nature, simplistic and superficial. There are certainly those in Asia who subscribe to the ideals of extreme globalism, and some among the European elite who recognize clearly that the Continental vision is just that — a vision and not an inevitability. But nonetheless, I noted the striking difference in tone between those I met in Europe and those in Asia. In part, the geopolitical developments in each region over the past several decades could explain this dichotomy.

 

Whereas Europe views the United States in ideological terms, Asia sees it in transactional terms.

Following the end of the Cold War, with the exception of the breakup of Yugoslavia, Europe has experienced perhaps its most stable multidecadal period in centuries. The European experiment appeared to be working. The peace and prosperity that spread across the continent allowed for the European Union to spread in kind, absorbing elements of the former Soviet bloc and even parts of the former Soviet Union itself. In guiding the economic and political directions of individual European nations, the European Union sought to erase the underlying nationalism that had riven Europe for millennia. But that noble goal failed to take into account the realities that remained below the surface. These were exposed dramatically with the global financial crisis in 2008, which forced the differences between the economic, social and political predilections underlying its systems to the surface once again, leaving the Europeans struggling with the growing gap between the globalized ideal and the national realities.

In Asia, no substantial periods of post-Cold War peace and cooperation ever really materialized. Even as it emerged as the region’s dominant economic regional power, China’s attention focused inward as it sought to manage internal social upheavalJapan fell into economic malaise. The two Koreas (despite a brief moment of sunshine) continued to spar. Extra-constitutional political change swept across Southeast Asia. The financial contagion that spread throughout the Asia-Pacific in 1997 sharpened many of these trends, leaving simply no long space of regional economic prosperity and political integration. Moves toward regional economic cooperation never went so far as seeking a common currency or centralized economic authority, and they certainly avoided linkage of economics and domestic politics.

Those differences in fortune play into the way each region views and reacts to both the perceived changes in U.S. policy direction and to rising nationalist sentiment around the world. In Europe, U.S. President Donald Trump is seen as globalization’s greatest threat, caricatured as the dangerous buffoon — a mirror image of the U.S. perception of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. European nations have found it difficult to manage relations with the United States because they cannot accept that it may be sliding away from the extreme vision of globalization. In Asia, there are concerns about the direction of U.S. policy, but less in regards to globalization and more in terms of its direct economic and security effects. Whereas Europe views the United States in ideological terms, Asia sees it in transactional terms. Thus Asian leaders like Japan’s Shinzo Abe and even China’s Xi Jinping have been more adept at interpreting and engaging with Trump.

The geopolitical currents that have brought the continental neighbors to these dichotomous viewpoints will continue to shape the perceptions of their thought leaders, who in turn influence the political, economic and social directions of their societies. It’s clear that globalism will continue to evolve, both as an ideal and as a reality. Where it ends up may be a matter of perspective.

 

Rodger Baker leads Stratfor’s analysis of Asia Pacific and South Asia and guides the company’s forecasting process. A Stratfor analyst since 1997, he has played a pivotal role in developing and refining the company’s analytical process, internal training programs and geopolitical framework.

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The German Elections Matter — and Not Just for Germany

Re-Blopgged From https://worldview.stratfor.com

Highlights

  • Germany’s Sept. 24 election will likely result in one of the most fragmented parliaments the country has seen in decades.
  • The country’s two largest parties will try to avoid renewing their current coalition partnership, meaning smaller parties will play a big role in the formation of the next government.
  • The ideological composition of the new administration will affect negotiations to reform the European Union, and when it comes to Southern Europe’s proposals for reform, a center-right coalition would be more skeptical than a center-left coalition.

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