Apparently the US government has failed to stop the Nordstream 2 natural gas pipeline from Russia to Europe. From Tom Luongo at strategic-culture.org:
For all of 2019 December has been a magnet. A number of major geopolitical issues come to head this month and many of them have everything to do with energy. This is the month that Russian gas giant Gazprom was due to finish production on three major pipeline projects – Nordstream 2, Turkstream and Power of Siberia.
Power of Siberia is here. It’s finished. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping christened the pipeline to begin the month. Next month Putin will travel to Turkey to join President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to open the first of four potential trains of the Turkstream pipeline.
It is only Nordstream 2 that continues to lag behind because of insane levels of pressure from the United States that is dead set against this pipeline coming online.
And the reason for that is the last of the major energy issues surrounding Gazprom needing resolution this month, the gas transit contract between it and Ukraine’s Naftogaz.
The two gas companies have been locked in legal disputes for years, some of which center on Crimea’s decision to break away from Ukraine and rejoin Russia in 2014. Most of them, however, involve disputes over costs incurred during the previous and expiring gas transit contract.
NATO no longer protects Europe from the Soviet Union, now defunct and replaced by Russia, which doesn’t currently pose a threat. Rather, it now provides diplomatic cover and operational support for US interventionism in places far removed from Europe. From Eric S. Margolis at lewrockwell.com:
Citizens of France. To arms! Man the ramparts. The American barbarians are coming. They shall not pass!
Le Trump’s threat to France’s splendid wines and Roquefort cheese are the gravest menace France has faced since the Germans invaded this fair land in 1914. Burgundy wines and France’s 300 fromages form the very soul of la Belle France.
Trump does not know or care that France saved America from British mis-rule. He wants revenge because France – which taxes nearly everything – seeks to tax US IT firms like Google and Amazon. Trump considers this a personal affront. Besides, he dislikes wine and lives on desiccated burgers made with petrochemical cheese, washed down by acidic Diet Cokes.
On top of this outrage comes the squabble over NATO. Trump used to scoff at the Alliance, saying it was ‘obsolete’ as well as under-armed and short of money. The president and his backers really dislike France and all it stands for, including wine and cheese.
NATO should have closed up shop when the Soviet Union dissolved. From Medea Benjamin at antiwar.com:
The three smartest words that Donald Trump uttered during his presidential campaign are “NATO is obsolete.” His adversary, Hillary Clinton, retortedthat NATO was “the strongest military alliance in the history of the world.” Now that Trump has been in power, the White House parrots the same worn line that NATO is “the most successful Alliance in history, guaranteeing the security, prosperity, and freedom of its members.” But Trump was right the first time around: Rather than being a strong alliance with a clear purpose, this 70-year-old organization that is meeting in London on December 4 is a stale military holdover from the Cold War days that should have gracefully retired many years ago.
NATO was originally founded by the United States and 11 other Western nations as an attempt to curb the rise of communism in 1949. Six years later, Communist nations founded the Warsaw Pact and through these two multilateral institutions, the entire globe became a Cold War battleground. When the USSR collapsed in 1991, the Warsaw Pact disbanded but NATO expanded, growing from its original 12 members to 29 member countries. North Macedonia, set to join next year, will bring the number to 30. NATO has also expanded well beyond the North Atlantic, adding a partnership with Colombia in 2017. Donald Trump recently suggested that Brazil could one day become a full member.
It is no longer in Europe’s interest to maintain an adversarial stance against Russia. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:
Last week I went through just some of the highlights as to why Russia is becoming a destination for global capital.
For years it’s been a little lonely out here banging on about how well the Russian state headed by Vladimir Putin has navigated an immense campaign by the West to marginalize and/or isolate Russia from the world economy.
But that is changing rapidly. And 2020 will likely be the year the New Cold War begins to end. And it starts with Europe. In recent weeks there have been a number of moves made on both sides to end the economic isolation of Russia by Europe.
As always, however, it begins politically. French President Emmanuel Macron speaking at a press conference before 70th Anniversary NATO Summit in London no less, made it clear that he no longer wants the EU positioning itself as an adversary of Russia or China.
If renewable energy doesn’t live up to its promoters claims, a lack of fossil fuel investment may be deadly. From Cyril Widdershoven at oilprice.com:
Activist global warming strategies have now caused the European Investment Bank to ban its fossil fuel project funding. After more than a year of internal and external lobbying by several EU member states and an ever-growing list of activist NGO and pressure groups, the EIB has decided to cut its financial support for all new fossil fuel projects by 2021. It will also support €1 trillion of investments in climate action and environmental sustainability. This is meant to force European countries to put an end to new gas-fueled power projects and keep in line with the Paris Agreements and EU CO2 emission targets. EIB VP Andrew McDowell stated to the press that the EIB’s new energy lending policy, seen as a landmark decision, has been approved with “overwhelming” support. He reiterated that it will bar investments or financing for most fossil fuel projects, including those that employ the traditional use of natural gas.
There is still a small loophole for fossil fuel projects, as the EIB funding will still be available for projects that can show they can produce one kilowatt-hour of energy while emitting less than 250g of carbon dioxide. New technologies could therefore be the savior in the end for traditional gas-burning power plants.
Posted in Business, Economics, Economy, Energy, Environment, Geopolitics, Governments, Politics
Tagged Europe, Fossil fuel investment, Renewable energy, Russia
Governments are bankrupt, so they’re going to take money any place they can find it. Raiding people’s piggy banks will yield an ample haul, but that only works once. From Andrew Moran at libertynation.com:
When any one of the plethora of bubbles burst – pick your poison – and the next financial crisis impacts Wall Street and Main Street, how will the central banks and federal governments react? They have fired all their unconventional rounds of bullets, from subzero interest rates to vast money-printing. One other proposal could conceivably be giving your deposits a haircut, much like what occurred in Cyprus following the recession. This dyspeptic vision is not hyperbole nor is it paranoia – the tariffs have raised the price of tinfoil! It is unfolding right now as our globalist overlords are executing, or at least entertaining, fiscal and monetary measures to confiscate your wealth – directly or indirectly.
Plugging Holes In Swiss Cheese
Switzerland is one of the few European nations to record a federal budget surplus. The budget for the fiscal year 2020 will record a $615 million surplus, despite imposing pension and tax reforms that slashed revenues and raised spending. The Swiss government is handcuffed by a so-called debt brake, a balanced-budget amendment that mandates the budget to be in balance throughout the business cycle. This policy has decreased the debt-to-gross domestic product ratio to nearly 25%.
Although national debt levels are still at multi-decade highs, the fact that the government is taking red ink seriously should be music to the ears of fiscal conservatives. But to others, it is headache-inducing.
Despite the best efforts of the US government to get Europeans to buy higher priced American liquified natural gas, the Europeans inexplicably want the cheaper gas Russia offers, so the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Europe will go through. From Irina Slav at oilprice.com:
This week, Denmark granted Gazprom approval for its Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, a project that is set to bring 55 billion cubic meters of Russian gas into Europe annually. It is one of the most controversial pipeline projects in the world and is now moving ahead despite strong opposition from multiple EU members and the United States.
The geopolitical tensions surrounding the development of Nord Stream 2 are unprecedented. To begin with, Russia has very poor relations with the Baltic states and Poland, nations who will almost always fight against anything they see as empowering Russia geopolitically. Then there is Ukraine, a nation that is strongly against the pipeline due to its fear of losing the transit fees that it currently charges Russia for exporting gas to Europe. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the United States sees this pipeline as a direct threat to its soft power in Europe as well as a threat to its growing LNG exports.
Posted in Business, Capitalism, Economics, Energy, Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Governments, Trade
Tagged Denmark, Europe, Natural gas, Nord Stream 2, Russia