Archive for the ‘Cap & Trade’ Category

Cap & Trade … and you think mortgage-backed derivatives were risky

April 6, 2009

Excerpted from WSJ, “The Carbon Cap Dilemma”, March 28, 2009

The essence of cap and trade:

Congress puts a ceiling on emissions, and then allows businesses to sell any of its extra allowances that stand for the right to emit, it is essentially creating the world’s largest commodity market — in carbon-backed securities. These will be extremely valuable, and everything comes down to how the government chooses to distribute them. ”

Full article:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123819777143661833.html#articleTabs%3Darticle

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Ken’s Take: Think about it … a financial derivative tied to the amount of carbon that an energy generating facility doesn’t emit.  At least mortgage backed securities were, well, backed by mortgages — albeit risky ones.  These derivatives would be backed by, well, nothing, except a Congressional definition that could change at Barney Frank’s whim.  You’d think that Enron and the current financial mess would have soured folks on those sorts of financial instruments.

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Cap & Trade … if it smells like a tax …

April 3, 2009

Excerpted from WSJ, “The Carbon Cap Dilemma”, March 28, 2009 

Ken’s Take: The Bushers were clever rebranding the estate tax as the more pejorative sounding “death tax”.  Team Obama is similarly clever calling their energy tax “cap and trade”.  Doesn’t change the essence — it’s a tax.

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On pure economic grounds, a straight carbon tax, would be simpler and more efficient than cap and trade.

But “the political will to go the tax route . . . is just not there. Nonexistent” — namely because the use of the word “tax.”

The cap & trade approach is to design a  program that will “simulate the same thing a tax would do.”

That is, to achieve the increased energy prices essential to the success of cap and trade.

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Full article:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123819777143661833.html#articleTabs%3Darticle

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Cap & Trade … the Chinese dilemma

April 2, 2009

Excerpted from WSJ, “The Carbon Cap Dilemma”, March 28, 2009

With breakneck construction of conventional coal plants, China has already surpassed U.S. coal capacity and is on pace to double it sometime in the middle of the next decade.

The U.S.,could close down every single coal plant immediately … but that wouldn’t do much good in the scheme of things,” because atmospheric CO2 concentrations would continue to rise as China continues to expand.

“We go to zero emissions in this country, and if China doesn’t follow us, we’re nowhere. . . . We’ve just ruined our economy, and we’re nowhere,”

China’s not going to follow us because we’re the United States. . . . You say, ‘Shut down your plants’ — well, that’s going to be a short conversation. China has $2 trillion invested in their plants.” 

Full article:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123819777143661833.html#articleTabs%3Darticle

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Cap & Trade … the Nuclear Dilemma

April 1, 2009

Factoid: 79% of France’s electricity is nuclear generated.

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Excerpted from WSJ, “The Carbon Cap Dilemma”, March 28, 2009

On the one hand, environmentalists claim that climate change is a “planetary emergency,” perhaps the greatest threat ever to face humanity. On the other, nuclear energy is still verboten in the green catechism — despite the fact that it provides roughly one-fifth of U.S. electricity, all of it free of carbon emissions. Without more nuclear power, it is nearly impossible to see even the glimmers of any low-emission future.

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A lot of companies stand to make a bundle off cap and trade.

Ironically, the nuclear industry stands to benefit as much as any “green” business from a carbon crackdown.

So, if Congress does create cap and trade, expect the next populist outcry to be for a windfall profits tax on nuclear.

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Ken’s Take: … and don’t expect any more nuclear power plants to be brought on line.

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Full article:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123819777143661833.html#articleTabs%3Darticle

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Who’ll pay the climate tax ? … Oops, I meant “Cap and Trade” ?

March 17, 2009

Hint: They were promised a tax cut during the Obama campaign.

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Excerpted from WSJ, “Who Pays for Cap and Trade?”, March 9,2009

Cap and trade is the tax that dare not speak its name, and Democrats are hoping in particular that no one notices who would pay for their climate ambitions.

Perhaps Americans would like to know the deeply unequal ways that climate costs would be distributed across regions and income groups.

Politicians love cap and trade because they can claim to be taxing “polluters,” not workers. Hardly.  the costs would inevitably be passed on to all consumers in the form of higher prices. Stating the obvious, Peter Orszag — now Mr. Obama’s budget director — told Congress last year that “Those price increases are essential to the success of a cap-and-trade program.”

The Congressional Budget Office — Mr. Orszag’s former roost — estimates that the price hikes from a 15% cut in emissions would cost the average household in the bottom-income quintile about 3.3% of its after-tax income every year. That’s about $680, not including the costs of reduced employment and output. The three middle quintiles would see their paychecks cut between $880 and $1,500, or 2.9% to 2.7% of income. The rich would pay 1.7%. Putting a price on carbon is regressive by definition because poor and middle-income households spend more of their paychecks on things like gas to drive to work, groceries or home heating.

Hit hardest would be the “95% of working families” Mr. Obama keeps mentioning, usually omitting that his no-new-taxes pledge comes with the caveat “unless you use energy.”

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But the greatest inequities are geographic and would be imposed on the parts of the U.S. that rely most on manufacturing or fossil fuels — particularly coal, which generates most power in the Midwest, Southern and Plains states. It’s no coincidence that the liberals most invested in cap and trade — Barbara Boxer, Henry Waxman, Ed Markey — come from California or the Northeast.

Coal provides more than half of U.S. electricity, and 25 states get more than 50% of their electricity from conventional coal-fired generation.

In Ohio, it totals 86%, according to the Energy Information Administration. Ratepayers in Indiana (94%), Missouri (85%), New Mexico (80%), Pennsylvania (56%), West Virginia (98%) and Wyoming (95%) are going to get soaked.

Cap and trade, in other words, is a scheme to redistribute income and wealth — but in a very curious way. It takes from the working class and gives to the affluent; takes from Miami, Ohio, and gives to Miami, Florida; and takes from an industrial America that is already struggling and gives to rich Silicon Valley and Wall Street “green tech” investors who know how to leverage the political class.

Full article:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123655590609066021.html

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