The Great Debate

Inventory-driven U.S. recovery may be delayed

June 8, 2009

John Kemp Great Debate— John Kemp is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own —

Steady improvement in manufacturing surveys, payroll data and freight movements all indicate the U.S. economy is approaching the low point in the business cycle and should hit the bottom within the next one to four months. But that does not necessarily imply a strong and sustained expansion is about to get underway.

Doing the contango

May 15, 2009

John Kemp Great Debate— John Kemp is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own —

The current contango structure in crude oil futures and most other commodity markets — with future prices significantly above the spot market — is providing a strong incentive to buy and store record quantities of raw materials, with most of the cost borne by retail investors in exchange-traded funds and institutional investors in long-only commodity indices.

Renewables roll-out needs price guarantees

May 13, 2009

John Kemp Great Debate— John Kemp is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own —

Power generation from renewable sources such as wind turbines, solar cells and biomass plays a small but important part in satisfying total electricity demand around the world, and is growing at an exponential rate thanks to generous public subsidies and government support.

Slicing and dicing to gain support for cap-and-trade

May 12, 2009

John Kemp Great Debate— John Kemp is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own —

House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman will this week publish a full text of proposed climate change legislation, including details of a cap-and-trade scheme for regulating and pricing emissions of greenhouse gases.

Conceptual problems in commodity regulation

May 5, 2009

John Kemp Great Debate— John Kemp is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own —

The financial crisis and wild gyrations in commodity prices have exposed deep conceptual flaws in the way academics and regulators think about commodity markets that will force a fundamental re-think.

Uncertain Fed support sinks bonds

April 30, 2009

John Kemp Great Debate— John Kemp is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own —

The bond market’s adverse reaction after the Fed announced no new asset purchase facilities or bond buyback programs highlights the fundamental difference between interest rates and quantitative easing (QE).

Specter shift will not change reform prospects

April 29, 2009

John Kemp Great Debate— John Kemp is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own —

Senator Arlen Specter’s decision to cross the aisle and join the Democratic Party hastens the extinction of moderate Republicans in the north-east and symbolizes their deep problems.

Drowning in debt: the long-term cost of the crisis

April 28, 2009

John Kemp Great DebateThe cost of bank rescues and fiscal stimulus is the largest financial disaster to befall the federal government in peacetime history of the United States.

Liquidity & inflation, lessons from the 1940s

April 24, 2009

John Kemp Great Debate— John Kemp is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own —

Comparisons between the current downturn and the Great Contraction of 1929-33 have multiplied as commentators and investors have tried to forecast the recession’s likely depth and duration. But as the U.S. economy shows signs of stabilising and attention switches to future inflation the more useful comparison is actually with the 1940s.

Is there any point to the IMF?

April 21, 2009

John Kemp Great Debate— John Kemp is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own —

Institutions often outlive their usefulness. Since the end of the Cold War, NATO has often looked like an organization in search of a mission. Lately, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has also seemed like one lost without a contemporary role.