Christopher's Feed
Jul 15, 2011
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Central bankers too set on 2 pct inflation target

By Christopher Swann and Agnes T. Crane
The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

NEW YORK — Monetary policymakers in big, developed economies have experimented wildly with real money trying to stave off crisis. Yet with inflation returning in places as recovery takes hold, they share a blinkered faith in a theoretical 2 percent annual inflation goal — despite scant evidence that even far higher rates harm growth. As rich nations struggle with debt, the credo merits an open-minded rethink.

Jul 14, 2011
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Conoco gives Big Oil a “come to Jesus” moment

By Christopher Swann and Lisa Lee
The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

ConocoPhillips has broken the mold. America’s third-largest energy group is splitting exploration from production and downstream operations. With investors quickly adding as much as $5 billion to Conoco’s value, the message to other integrated companies like Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell is getting louder.

Jul 6, 2011
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Pipeline prey may now be too pricey for Williams

´╗┐By Christopher Swann and Lisa Lee
The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

Investors don’t expect American energy group Williams Companies to give up the chase for rival Southern Union. But trumping the latest $5 billion offer by Energy Transfer Equity will destroy value for its own shareholders. With Southern Union starting to look an expensive catch, Williams may be better off leaving the overpaying to its rival.

Jun 24, 2011
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Energy mergers frenzy takes a pause — temporarily

By Christopher Swann
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Bankers in the oil patch who got a glimpse of their families of late shouldn’t get used to it. The frenetic pace of M&A in the energy sector, excluding utilities, slowed this year. As unraveling deals like Encana’s C$5.4 billion tie-up with PetroChina suggest, uncertainty over commodity prices is the main culprit. But the global hunger for hydrocarbons means energy bankers won’t be idle for long.

Jun 9, 2011
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Once pricey U.S. gasland now looks like a bargain

By Christopher Swann
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The gas-rich land of the Marcellus shale has been some of America’s hottest wildcat real estate in recent years. But if Exxon Mobil’s $1.7 billion purchase is any indication, the days of eye-watering prices are over. The oil titan is paying barely half the price such acres were fetching last year, as the frenzy has shifted to oilier Texas. Cheaper real estate may even make gas assets look appealing again.

May 25, 2011
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U.S. energy’s steady middlemen look neglected

By Christopher Swann
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

NEW YORK — Oil and gas pipelines offer market-beating returns. Mostly held in so-called master limited partnerships, they looked dear for a while. But the $245 billion sector again looks affordable. Many shun the complexity, but it means higher returns for those prepared to invest.

May 24, 2011
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El Paso reminds Big Oil breaking up is easy to do

By Christopher Swann
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

NEW YORK — Divorce is all the rage for energy investors. The modest lift the $15 billion El Paso got from cleaving wildcatting from pipelines may not do justice to market enthusiasm since the move had been expected. But trailblazers like Marathon also have held onto their split gains. Oil majors now have a full body of evidence of what investors want.

May 16, 2011
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IMF fracas offers chance for Third World revamp

By Christopher Swann
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Emerging economies were always going to have a bigger say in the affairs of the International Monetary Fund. Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s shocking arrest over the weekend should accelerate that moment. While Europeans have traditionally led the IMF, recruiting a new chief from an emerging economy — particularly one that’s been through the IMF wringer — could broaden support for the fund among rising powers.

May 2, 2011
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Coal bubble rears head in Arch’s $3.4 bln ICG bid

By Christopher Swann
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The coal bubble has reared its blackened face yet again, if the reaction of Arch Coal’s shareholders to its $3.4 billion takeover of a rival is any indication. The company is paying a premium to International Coal Group that’s well above the capitalized value of potential synergies. And though investors belatedly bid down shares of Arch, they have yet to fully recognize the extent of value destruction.

Apr 21, 2011
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Fracking leak hands Earth Day gift to green energy

By Christopher Swann
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Fracking didn’t quite get its Macondo moment. Chesapeake Energy’s fluid spill in Pennsylvania looks minor compared to BP’s Gulf of Mexico explosion exactly a year ago. All the same, the incident will galvanize critics of hydraulic fracturing, a process that releases natural gas from shale rock by blasting it with water, sand and chemicals. As well as deepwater oil, coal and nuclear operations have both had recent disasters. With Friday designated Earth Day, it’s a well-timed gift for renewable energy firms.

    • About Christopher

      "I am a columnist at Thomson Reuters focusing on the energy industry and hedge funds. Prior to this I worked at Bloomberg and the Financial Times."
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