Cap and Trade: Polluting is allowed so long you pay the banksters

Kerry and Lieberman want the industry to pay bankers a fee for emitting.  In other words, they want to legalize unlimited pollution.  The results will be an end to industry at the local and regional levels, with massive, worse than ever before emission for anyone who can pay the new tax (Transnational Corporations).  The bill presented in May will also regulate how much energy citizens can use. It will also pursue the same failed green policies Spain is now abandoning.

CNSNews

Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said they are not worried that their cap-and-trade plan might harm

The Cap-and-Trade scheme is part of the largest transfer of money and resources from the poor and the middle class to the corporate Lords.

fellow Democrats going into the November elections, at a time when voters are more concerned about bread and butter issues such as the economy and the 9.7 percent unemployment rate.

The bill, the American Power Act,  was unveiled in May and would establish a nationwide cap-and-trade system that would regulate the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere. In exchange, the bill would also extend various tax subsidies and credits in an attempt to make renewable energy sources relatively affordable.

Cap and trade basically means that a ceiling, a cap, would be placed on certain carbon-emitting manufacturers who would be allowed to exceed that cap if they purchase carbon credits (trade), the proceeds of which would be invested in alternative energy after the government collected a portion of those proceeds. (Some analysts describe the plan as “cap and tax.”)

CNSNews.com on Tuesday asked Sens. Kerry and Lieberman whether they were concerned that pushing such a low-priority issue so close to an election would reinforce the perception that Congress and its Democratic leaders were out of touch with the American people. (Lieberman, though an Independent, is a former Democrat who now caucuses with the Democrats in Congress.)

Lieberman acknowledged that the public is concerned with fiscal issues: “Deficit, debt is on the minds of the voters,” he said. “The American Power Act has been constructed to be deficit-neutral [and] we’re going to get the CBO analysis later this month or early next month.”

Kerry went on at length, saying that  Americans support many of the provisions in his bill: “When you put the worst arguments characterizing our legislation against the best arguments for energy independence — for jobs, for health, and cleaning up the environment — overwhelmingly Americans land on the side of a comprehensive bill,” said Kerry.

Kerry said that the debate going forward will not be about convincing the public of the veracity of global warming claims, but about trying to redefine cap and trade legislation as something that will benefit the struggling economy.

“Nothing that we do with respect to this bill rides on persuading people ultimately about climate [change],” Kerry said.

“Do Americans want to say no to anywhere from 250,000 to 540,000 jobs a year for the next 10-20 years? I don’t think so,” said Kerry.  “Do Americans want to let China take the lead in solar and wind technologies that we invented? I don’t think so. This is about getting America into the marketplace. This is a $6 trillion market with 6 billion potential users.”

Kerry and Lieberman, in an apparent nod to voters’ fiscal concerns, may have a steep hill to climb in convincing the public that their economic plan will lead to a better economy.

Polls show that Americans are not particularly taken with the issue of global warming, the driving force behind the Kerry-Lieberman effort. A March 2010 Gallup survey, for example, found that 48 percent of Americans thought that global warming claims were exaggerated.

That same survey found that 67 percent of Americans thought that global warming would not pose a serious threat to their well-being in the future.

Polls also have shown that global warming does not rank high on Americans’ list of concerns. An April 2010 Gallup survey found that Americans ranked environmental issues and global warming last when asked which issues they thought were the most important in determining how they will vote in November 2010.

Only 46 percent of Americans said that global warming was either “extremely” or “very” important to their voting decisions. By contrast, 93 percent said the economy was either very or extremely important to their voting choices. In fact, the economy was the only issue of the seven polled that a majority of voters, 53 percent, called extremely important to their voting decision.

Global warming was ranked as extremely important by only 22 percent of respondents.

The same March 2010 Gallup survey that showed skepticism of global warming also found that only 30 percent of the public thought that energy and climate legislation would either probably or definitely help the economy. Among those, only six percent thought federal legislation would definitely help.

Conversely, 48 percent thought that federal climate and energy legislation would either definitely or probably hurt the economy. The percentage of Americans who thought that federal energy legislation would either probably or definitely hurt the economy actually rose from one year ago, the survey found, while the number of people who thought the legislation might be beneficial declined.

Brazil is getting hot. Too hot, too fast

If there is one thing proven beyond doubt during this crisis is that government interventionism in the free market is nefarious.  Developing countries are again and again the victims of globalist inspired management.  Argentina was one notorious case, Iceland and Greece have followed; and now Brazil, a fairly prosperous country in the last decade, is on the way to becoming another victim of artificial implosion.

Financial Times

Brazil’s central bank raised its policy interest rate by three quarters of a percentage point on Wednesday evening in another sign thatBrazil getting too hot the country’s breakneck pace of growth is causing concern over rising prices.

Brazil’s economy expanded by 2.7 per cent in the first quarter over the previous quarter and by 9 per cent over the first quarter of 2009, the national statistics office said on Tuesday. That is much faster than what many economists consider to be the potential, or non-inflationary, rate of about 4.5 to 5 per cent.

“This shows there has been no change in the bank’s position since its previous increase in April,” said Silvio Campos Neto of Banco Schahin in São Paulo. “It is clear from all the indicators that the economy is heating up and inflation is still above target. This is worrying and demands further increases in rates.”

The bank raised its target overnight Selic rate to 10.25 per cent a year, the second three-quarter-point increase at the last two six-weekly meetings of its monetary policy committee.

Consumer price inflation ballooned from a low of 4.17 per cent a year last October to 5.22 per cent in the 12 months to May. Many economists expect inflation to reach 6 per cent by the end of this year, well above the government’s target of 4.5 per cent. Economic growth is expected to be about 6.6 per cent this year.

Mr Campos said he expected the bank to raise the Selic rate to 11.75 per cent by the end of this year.

He said successive interest rate increases would help bring growth back to sustainable levels and predicted the economy would grow by about 4.3 per cent in 2011.

Brazil’s domestic market has recovered quickly from a brief recession during the global crisis, spurred on by a rising consumer class that has benefited from more than a decade of economic stability and low inflation, and from low-cost but effective income transfer programmes.

But the fast pace of growth has exposed bottlenecks such as the poor quality of Brazil’s infrastructure and its heavy tax burden. The rate of investment has risen in recent years but is still short of what is needed to deliver fast, sustainable growth.

Background: Fears of overheating

Brazil’s economy was among the fastest growing in the world during the first quarter, according to figures released on Tuesday that add to fears the economy is overheating and to expectations that the central bank will raise rates again on Wednesday.

The economy grew at a faster-than-expected annual rate of 9 per cent in the three months to March and by 2.7 per cent compared with the previous quarter, according to the IBGE, the national statistics office.

Part of the reason for the growth was an increase in investment, with the rate of investment rising to 18 per cent from 16.3 per cent a year earlier, spurred by gross fixed capital formation, which leapt by 26 per cent year on year, the fastest rate since the IBGE’s current series began in 1995.

“This confirms that the economy is very heated,” said Rafael Bacciotti, economist at Tendências, a consultancy in São Paulo. “The stand-out sectors were industry and services. Employment and wages are also growing strongly and we expect this to continue throughout the year.”

The manufacturing industry grew by 17.2 per cent year on year and the retail sector by 15.2 per cent. Imports also set a record, surging by 39.5 per cent year on year.

The central bank’s most recent weekly survey of market economists showed expectations of overall growth this year rising to 6.6 per cent, the 12th consecutive week of climbing expectations.

But many believe the economy cannot grow at more than 4.5 or 5 per cent a year without provoking an increase in inflation.

The central bank has been forced to act by steadily rising inflation expectations over recent months. Since October, Brazil’s consumer inflation rate has surged from an annual rate of 4.17 per cent to 5.26 per cent in April. However, the central bank’s most recent survey showed a slight drop in forecasts for inflation during 2010, with the average falling to 5.64 per cent from 5.67 per cent a week earlier.

Most economists expect the central bank to announce a second consecutive three-quarter percentage point rise in its policy interest rate, the Selic, at the end of its monetary policy committee’s regular two-day meeting tomorrow.

The committee meets every six weeks to decide whether to change the Selic rate in pursuit of the government’s annual consumer price inflation target, currently 4.5 per cent a year.

If expectations are confirmed, the Selic will rise to 10.25 per cent a year, up from 8.75 per cent when the current tightening cycle began in April.

U.S. asset managers: Obama could confiscate gold

Mineweb.com

Speaking at the FT Silver conference in London yesterday, lead-off speaker John Levin, HSBC Bank’s Managing Director, Global

Is Gold confiscation next to 'save the economy'?

Metals and Trading (HSBC is one of the world’s top precious metals traders and its vaults in the U.S. and Europe hold huge holdings of gold and silver bullion) recounted conversations with some of the U.S.’s top asset managers controlling massive amounts of capital asking if HSBC had the capacity in its vaults to store major gold purchases.  On being told that the bank’s U.S. vaults had sufficient space available he was told that they did not want their gold stored in the U.S.A. but preferably in Europe because they feared that at some stage the U.S. Administration might follow the path set by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933 and confiscate all U.S. gold holdings as part of the country’s strategy in dealing with the nation’s economic problems.

While in Mineweb‘s view such a move is unlikely, one needs to bear in mind that President Obama is a keen follower of Roosevelt’s views and policies and that the very fact that some asset managers controlling huge volumes of money feel that such a move is possible is a significant factor – and one that is perhaps heightened by the huge amounts of money flowing into gold at the moment in both ETFs and bullion.

As a reminder to readers – Section 2 of Roosevelt’s Act read as follows: All persons are hereby required to deliver on or before May 1, 1933, to a Federal Reserve bank or a branch or agency thereof or to any member bank of the Federal Reserve System all gold coin, gold bullion, and gold certificates now owned by them or coming into their ownership on or before April 28, 1933, except the following:

(a) Such amount of gold as may be required for legitimate and customary use in industry, profession or art within a reasonable time, including gold prior to refining and stocks of gold in reasonable amounts for the usual trade requirements of owners mining and refining such gold.

(b) Gold coin and gold certificates in an amount not exceeding in the aggregate $100.00 belonging to any one person; and gold coins having recognized special value to collectors of rare and unusual coins.

(c) Gold coin and bullion earmarked or held in trust for a recognized foreign government or foreign central bank or the Bank for International Settlements.

(d) Gold coin and bullion licensed for the other proper transactions (not involving hoarding) including gold coin and gold bullion imported for the re-export or held pending action on applications for export license.

At that time of course, the dollar was exchangeable for gold at a set value ($20.67 an ounce) so compensation for such a move would have been easy to calculate.  Roosevelt subsequently revalued gold to the $35 level which stood for over 30 years.   Nowadays that kind of process would be a little more difficult, but perhaps not beyond the means of a government, already versed in printing large sums of money to try and re-stimulate the economy.  Perhaps a figure of the average gold price over a 3 month period at a certain date would meet an initial compensation valuation, but in today’s much more litigious society such a move might well fail anyway.

Indeed current economic analysis of the Roosevelt move suggests that it was not successful in helping drag the U.S. out of depression and indeed may have contributed to a recession within a depression – a pretty dire situation.  It probably took World War II to end the Great Depression.

Levin’s presentation – a trader’s view from the coal-face as he put it – contained much anecdotal material of interest and was a refreshing change from the usual analysts’ viewpoints.  More of that in a subsequent article.

21st Century Culture: Free Enterprise vs Government Control

Arthur C. Brooks

This is not the culture war of the 1990s. It is not a fight over guns, gays or abortion. Those old battles have been eclipsed by a new

Free Enterprise needs to exist for the gears to move.

struggle between two competing visions of the country’s future. In one, America will continue to be an exceptional nation organized around the principles of free enterprise — limited government, a reliance on entrepreneurship and rewards determined by market forces. In the other, America will move toward European-style statism grounded in expanding bureaucracies, a managed economy and large-scale income redistribution. These visions are not reconcilable. We must choose.

It is not at all clear which side will prevail. The forces of big government are entrenched and enjoy the full arsenal of the administration’s money and influence. Our leaders in Washington, aided by the unprecedented economic crisis of recent years and the panic it induced, have seized the moment to introduce breathtaking expansions of state power in huge swaths of the economy, from the health-care takeover to the financial regulatory bill that the Senate approved Thursday. If these forces continue to prevail, America will cease to be a free enterprise nation.

I call this a culture war because free enterprise has been integral to American culture from the beginning, and it still lies at the core of our history and character. “A wise and frugal government,” Thomas Jefferson declared in his first inaugural address in 1801, “which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.” He later warned: “To take from one, because it is thought that his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.” In other words, beware government’s economic control, and woe betide the redistributors.

Now, as then, entrepreneurship can flourish only in a culture where individuals are willing to innovate and exert leadership; where people enjoy the rewards and face the consequences of their decisions; and where we can gamble the security of the status quo for a chance of future success.

Yet, in his commencement address at Arizona State University on May 13, 2009, President Obama warned against precisely such impulses: “You’re taught to chase after all the usual brass rings; you try to be on this “who’s who” list or that Top 100 list; you chase after the big money and you figure out how big your corner office is; you worry about whether you have a fancy enough title or a fancy enough car. That’s the message that’s sent each and every day, or has been in our culture for far too long — that through material possessions, through a ruthless competition pursued only on your own behalf — that’s how you will measure success.” Such ambition, he cautioned, “may lead you to compromise your values and your principles.”

I appreciate the sentiment that money does not buy happiness. But for the president of the United States to actively warn young adults away from economic ambition is remarkable. And he makes clear that he seeks to change our culture.

The irony is that, by wide margins, Americans support free enterprise. A Gallup poll in January found that 86 percent of Americans have a positive image of “free enterprise,” with only 10 percent viewing it negatively. Similarly, in March 2009, the Pew Research Center asked individuals from a broad range of demographic groups: “Generally, do you think people are better off in a free-market economy, even though there may be severe ups and downs from time to time, or don’t you think so?” Almost 70 percent of respondents agreed that they are better off in a free-market economy, while only 20 percent disagreed.

In fact, no matter how the issue is posed, not more than 30 percent of Americans say they believe we would fare better without free markets at the core of our system. When it comes to support for free enterprise, we are essentially a 70-30 nation.

So here’s a puzzle: If we love free enterprise so much, why are the 30 percent who want to change that culture in charge?

It’s not simply because of the election of Obama. As much as Republicans may dislike hearing it, statism had effectively taken hold in Washington long before that.

The George W. Bush administration began the huge Wall Street and Detroit bailouts, and for years before the economic crisis, the GOP talked about free enterprise while simultaneously expanding the government with borrowed money and increasing the percentage of citizens with no income tax liability. The 30 percent coalition did not start governing this country with the advent of Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. It has been in charge for years.

Green Policies in Spain are a Total Failure

By Luis R. Miranda
The Real Agenda
May 19, 2010

Pajamas Media has received a leaked internal assessment produced by Spain’s Zapatero administration. The assessment confirms thspain's green economye key charges previously made by non-governmental Spanish experts in a damning report exposing the catastrophic economic failure of Spain’s “green economy” initiatives.

On eight separate occasions, President Barack Obama has referred to the “green economy” policies enacted by Spain as being the model for what he envisioned for America.

Later came the revelation that Obama administration senior Energy Department official Cathy Zoi — someone with serious publicized conflict of interest issues — demanded an urgent U.S. response to the damaging report from the non-governmental Spanish experts so as to protect the Obama administration’s plans.

Most recently, U.S. senators have introduced the vehicle for replicating Spain’s unfolding economic meltdown here, in the form of the “American Power Act.” For reasons that are obvious upon scrutiny, it should instead be called the American Power Grab Act.

But today’s leaked document reveals that even the socialist Spanish government now acknowledges the ruinous effects of green economic policy.

Unsurprisingly for a governmental take on a flagship program, the report takes pains to minimize the extent of the economic harm. Yet despite the soft-pedaling, the document reveals exactly why electricity rates “necessarily skyrocketed” in Spain, as did the public debt needed to underwrite the disaster. This internal assessment preceded the Zapatero administration’s recent acknowledgement that the “green economy” stunt must be abandoned, lest the experiment risk Spain becoming Greece.

The government report does not expressly confirm the highest-profile finding of the non-governmental report: that Spain’s “green economy” program cost the country 2.2 jobs for every job “created” by the state. However, the figures published in the government document indicate they arrived at a job-loss number even worse than the 2.2 figure from the independent study.

This document is not a public report. Spanish media has referred to its existence in recent weeks though, while Bloomberg and the Washington Examiner have noted the impact: Spain is now forced to jettison its plans — Obama’s model — for a “green economy.”

Remarkably, these items have received virtually no media attention.

An item which has been covered widely, however, is that President Obama is now pressuring Spain to turn off its spigot of public debt in the name of averting a situation similar to that of Greece.

Also covered widely is Obama’s promotion of the American Power Act — the legislation which would replicate Spain’s current situation in the United States.

Put simply, Obama is currently promoting a policy in the U.S. which is based on a policy that he wishes to see Spain abandon. Welcome to Obamaland, the particulars of which are explained in a fashion grandly more illuminating than this Obama-Zapatero dance in Power Grab: How Obama’s Green Policies Will Steal Your Freedom and Bankrupt America.

A translation of the leaked Zapatero government internal slide presentation: “Renewable Energy: Situation and Objectives April 2010”

1) Renewable Energy: Situation and Objectives April 2010

2) Renewable Energy Situation: The price of electricity affects household welfare

According to EuroStat data, the cost of electricity for households in Spain moved from below the European average to slightly above the average (+5% higher)

3) Renewable Energy Situation: The price of electricity determines the competitiveness of Spanish industry

Energy is a key input in industrial production processes. In basic industries (cement, industrial gases, metals, basic chemicals and steel), energy costs are three times the labor cost. The electrical cost for the Spanish industry is well above the European average (+17% higher).

4) Renewable Energy Situation: The price increase is mainly due to additional costs of renewables

The price of electricity determines the competitiveness of Spanish industry

Historical evolution of the prices of light and pool price [Appears above a graph showing a 77% price spike in industry’s price for electricity]

A price increase cannot be explained by the evolution of electricity market price (pool), which has even fallen since 2005

5) Renewable Energy Situation: The price increase is mainly due to additional costs of renewables

The increase in the over-cost paid for renewable energy explains more than 120% of the variation of the electric bill, and has offset the reduction in production costs of conventional electricity (25%)

To these direct costs of renewables must be added indirect costs, as the need for additional investment in networks to integrate renewables (about 10% of planned investment in the planning) and capacity payments to the modular backup facilities (coal and gas) that are running a smaller number of hours

6) Situation of renewable energy: renewable energy has had a positive impact …

Thanks to the increase of renewable energies in the mix:

The rate of energy supply has increased by 3 points since 2005, to 23%, and the import of energy products has been reduced 5.500M Euro (including hydraulics).

Emissions have been reduced significantly, thanks primarily to the mix of electric generation being much cleaner (less than 120 tons of CO2 emissions per GWh of oil produced).

7) Situation of renewable energy: but its evolution in recent years has been too fast

From 2004-2010 the amount of premiums [over-cost paid for renewable energy; the subsidy] has increased fivefold. Only in 2009 it doubled over the previous year to reach 5.045M€, equivalent in amount to the entire public investment in R + D + i in Spain. [The renewables subsidy equaled the entire cost of producing electricity in Spain]. The forecast for 2010 is 6.300M€ (although 5.800M€ budgeted in January). This should add 1.000M€ for cogeneration.

With operational facilities, the renewable sector will receive in the next 25 years more than 126.000M€. In this factor, it adds a commitment to continue providing input to the renewable energies in the mix to meet the European objectives, which will increase this figure significantly.

8 ) Situation of renewable energy: Heterogeneity of renewables: costs

In 2009, the solar photovoltaic technology accounted for 53% of the extra cost of renewables, while they contributed only 11% of energy generated from these sources.

9) Situation of renewable energy: Heterogeneity of renewables: Impact on the external sector

Exports: Net exports of Spanish wind industry 1.300M€ contributed to the trade balance in 2008 and, besides, wind generation avoids fossil imports of 3.6M€.

Imports: By contrast, the PV industry growth was not gradual, hampering the formation of an auxiliary Spanish industry. In 2008 imports of photovoltaic cells and modules in Spain amounted to 5.182M€ (28.6% of net imports of crude and derivatives) as long around the 62% were imported.

10) Situation of renewable energy: Heterogeneity of renewables: Technical problems

Network Management. The proliferation of small plants and fluctuations in the availability of technologies hinder the management of the network.

11) Situation of renewable energy:

Regulatory mechanisms to support renewables have been:

– Pioneers in the world, which has allowed us to stay ahead of the industry, learn from the experience and finding some excesses.
There are numerous examples of these high returns: analyst reports, premiums accepted in other countries, over-subscription in the pre-records, facilities willing to accept lower premiums, “paper market” …

– Overly cautious about the ability of cost reduction technologies

– Inflexible, thereby preventing adjust remuneration to market signals and technological advancement

– Hardly told them by the administration in setting prices initially and have no control over the amounts … Which has caused a “bubble effect,” such as seen with photovoltaics in 2008 and the emergence of the thermal bubble (which would have continued in 2010 and successively had it not been for the pre-registration requirement imposed), as well as a sharp increase the over-costs [subsidies] paid to renewables in the form of a feed-in tariff.

12) Situation of renewable energy: Heterogeneity of renewables: International comparison

In wind power, our rates are in line with Europe. However, solar photovoltaics, Spanish retribution has been the most high, despite the higher number of hours of sun and more solar radiation.

Spain Wind € 75-84/MWh Solar €265/295/350/450/MWh

China Wind € 56-67 Solar € 121/MWh

Japan Wind € 73-89/MWh

Germany Wind € 92/MWh Solar € 287-395/MWh

France Wind € 82/MWh Solar €310-380

Italy Wind € 85/MWh Solar € 350-390

Poland Wind € 90/MWh

13) Situation of renewable energy: Recent technological developments

The investment costs of renewable energies mainly depend on its technological learning curve

The plots have experienced tremendous technological development in recent years, reducing their investment costs

Not being mature technologies, have much future room for improvement, which informs a decision to slow its current expansion

14) Situation of renewable energy: What have we done?

The Government has adapted the following initiatives:

– A new framework for PV in 2008 (RD1578/2008) that brings order to the pace of installation and marking signs ecstatic that transfer with May fast technological development gains to consumers

– Creation of a technology pre-registration for the remainder of May 2009 has allowed us to avoid the “bubble” that was generated in thermal and prevent the system being made even more untenable in 2010.

– Package of measures for the reduction to the tariff deficit with input from the traditional electric companies, consumers and government (without the contribution of renewable energy).

15) Situation of renewable energy: Difficulties in reducing the tariff deficit

– The Government is committed by law to eliminate by 2013 the tariff deficit

– Despite the evolution of the wholesale market (pool), the balance of certain items (the Iberian peninsula, nuclear waste) and higher light, the rate deficit was only slightly reduced.

16) Objectives

– Reaching 20% of final energy and 40% of electric generation from renewable sources by 2020.

– Reducing the deficit and preserve the competitiveness of industry and household welfare.

– Transfer gains in technological developments to consumers.

– Avoid speculation caused by excess profits, which damages its image and retards the construction of the plants pre-assigned (with an adverse effect on the industry).

– Mitigate the incentive for fraud that can generate the current differential between the rate and the price of the pool.

– Promote technological improvement and cost reduction, advancing the attainment of “grid parity,” which will allow greater installation of renewables until 2020.