The Great Debate

Congress must legislate to avoid a helium crisis

March 27, 2013

Bipartisan bills introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate aim to avert the imminent shutdown of the Federal Helium Reserve, which provides a third of all the gas consumed worldwide, and develop a proper market to avoid a long-term crunch in supplies of one of the world’s most obscure but vital raw materials.

The Trojan Horse of cost benefit analysis

January 3, 2012

By John Kemp
The writer is a Reuters market analyst. The views expressed are his own.

Will oil prices stabilize around $80?

November 29, 2010

Most commentators and oil analysts are convinced a further rise in prices is inevitable in the next few years as emerging market consumption grows and supplies increasingly come from more costly and technically challenging sources such as ultra-deepwater.

Savers shoulder the inevitable burden of bad loans

November 5, 2010

Britain’s new coalition government likes to remind voters we are all in this together. The phrase is rather glib. But in an important sense savers and borrowers around the world are finding the costs of reckless lending are falling on the innocent and guilty alike.

Third time unlucky for BHP

November 4, 2010

- The opinions are the author’s own -

No one doubts BHP Billiton is the smartest, most innovative mining company in the world. It has shaken up a once-sleepy sector and transformed pricing and marketing of raw materials from copper to coal and iron ore.
BHP is the mining sector’s Goldman Sachs. It employs the best minds and campaigns to change practices which have been long-established but which the firm considers outdated in a successful quest to unlock immense value for its shareholders.

Fed launches QE-lite

November 4, 2010

In a compromise, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) has approved a cautious and conservative second round of quantitative easing (QE2) which may satisfy nobody but should prevent internal splits from widening.

California voters back weakened climate law

November 3, 2010

-The opinions are the author’s own-

California voters on Tuesday rejected a measure to suspend the state’s innovative climate change law. But the state’s emission trading scheme has been substantially diluted to buy off opposition from energy-intensive industries and allay fears about job losses.

Fed is split but QE2 looks a done deal

November 1, 2010

- The opinions expressed are the author’s own-

FOMC meetings are usually a strange combination of formality and easy-going familiarity but levity may be in short supply this week. The Fed’s institutional credibility is on the line, and the normal decorum that characterizes relations among committee members has become increasingly strained over the summer.

Quantitative easing and the commodity markets

October 29, 2010

-The views expressed are the author’s own-

A warning by an International Energy Agency (IEA) analyst this week that quantitative easing (QE) risked inflating nominal commodity prices and derailing the recovery drew a withering response from Nobel Economics Laureate Paul Krugman, who labelled the unfortunate analyst the “worst economist in the world”.

Markets make prisoner of the Fed

October 22, 2010

“Market participants should not direct policy,” Kansas City Fed President Thomas Hoenig warned listeners at a town hall meeting in Lincoln, Nebraska, back in August. Unfortunately that is precisely what is now happening.