NEWS

The growth in global production of greenhouse gases

The growth in global production of greenhouse gases has decelerated over the past few years, with 2015 seeing the first actual reduction, of 0.1% compared to 2014 levels, according to a European Union report published 6 December.

A “structural shift away from carbon-intensive activities” such as coal consumption in China and the US has been a key factor in curbing the emissions, the report said.

Meanwhile, US developers installed solar PV systems at the fastest pace on record in the third quarter – adding as much as a megawatt every 32 minutes, according to the Solar Energy Industries ; of the EPA, Pruitt could put his weight behind diluting the Clean Power Plan, which was halted by the US Supreme Court in February, pending a decision on its legality.

In other US news, former Texas Governor Rick Perry is rumoured to be the leading candidate for the position of energy secretary within the incoming administration. Perry is a board member of Energy Transfer Partners – the company whose North Dakota crude oil pipeline project is opposed by local residents and environmentalists.

Meanwhile, heavyweight investors including Bill Gates and Richard Branson are plowing capital into a $1 billion investment fund to power clean energy production. The aim of the 20-year fund, dubbed Breakthrough Energy Ventures, is to pump money into risky, long-term energy technology with the potential significantly to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to a statement by the fund.

Royal Dutch Shell is also participating to the trend towards low-carbon investment, with its biggest step yet into the offshore wind industry. The oil giant won a tender to provide power at 5.45 eurocents (5.8 US cents) per kWh from 680MW of offshore wind farms in the Netherlands. The contract is the second cheapest price seen yet for the technology. Sweden’s Vattenfall holds the current offshore wind record at 4.99 eurocents/kWh, the winning bid in Denmark’s 600MW Krieger’s Flak tender last month and discussed further in this BNEF.

Faced with a profound electricity shortage and large infrastructure deficit, Nigeria is stepping into the green bond market with plans to raise NGN 20bn ($63m) by March to fund renewable energy projects. Selling the sustainably-aligned notes to the international community will help West Africa’s biggest economy fund off-grid solar projects, an electric vehicle commuter project and a clean-up of oil spills in the southern Niger River delta.

Also in West Africa, Senegal’s second utility-scale solar project is on the cards, following news that Paris-based investor Meridiam is planning to build a 30MW solar plant east of Dakar. The Ten Merina project will cost about EUR 43m ($46m) and will be financed by an 18-year loan of EUR 34.5m from France’s Proparco and BIO, a Belgian development investor.

In other solar news, India plans to tender as much as 1GW of solar rooftop capacity this month in a bid to accelerate the installation of panels on government buildings, and to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s goal of generating 100GW from the sun by 2022. Unlike a previous auction of 500MW in November, the winners of December’s competitive bidding process won’t receive full payments up front but instead will receive incentives in a step-by-step process as they meet completion timelines, according to Solar Energy Corporation of India.

Elsewhere in Asia, Japan is transitioning from feed-in tariffs for large-scale solar to a competitive auction system. In September, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will invite developers to submit bids to build a total of 500MW of solar power in projects of 2MW or larger, according to a ministry document. It is hoped that the plan will rejuvenate Japan’s lacklustre solar industry and give greater clarity to developers regarding the tariffs they can expect to receive.

From July 2012 to July 2016, Japan commissioned almost 30GW of solar PV plants, while the amount of yet-to-be-commissioned capacity – still eligible to receive feed-in tariffs -- exceeded 50GW in the period, according to this BNEF.

 

China to ramp up its offshore wind installations by 2020 (GW of capacity)

BNEF 12.2016 
 

Source: Bloomberg New Energy Finance

By the end of 2016, a total of 13.8GW of offshore wind capacity will have been installed worldwide, with more than $24bn invested in building new plants this year, according to BNEF. And by the end of the decade almost 40GW of offshore wind turbines will be installed in waters globally, the research organisation forecasts. 


In the graph above, 'other' includes Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, US, Norway, Portugal and Sweden.

Article from Bloomberg published on Dec. 13th, 2016

BRICS have closed the gap with European economies

 

The data show that the EB 5 economies (Germany, the UK, France, Italy and Spain) have lost considerable ground in their share of world economic presence. Nonetheless, when we desegregate the data, we discover a number of peculiarities. The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) have closed the gap with the EB5 much more than the N11 (Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, South Korea, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Turkey and Vietnam) have done, making the BRICS more interesting to analyse. Furthermore, within the BRICS, the out-performer (and hence outlier) is China; thus it could be argued that the rise of the rest might be better described as the rise of China. Interestingly, in recent years India has also performed well, and it could potentially become the new star of the BRICS. Russia, by contrast, has reached a plateau and might even reverse its gains. (Art. « The rise of Chemany »)

 

Article written by Miguel Otero-Iglesias, Senior Analyst in International Political Economy at the Elcano Royal Institute and published in the Eurasia Review.

The whole article is available hereunder :

http://www.eurasiareview.com/24102015-the-rise-of-chermany-germany-and-china-the-big-winners-in-economic-globalisation-analysis/

December 13th, 2016

Preventing the Next Eurozone Crisis Starts Now

 

This article gives a rare up-to-date and in-depth situation of the Euro zone instability and a few constructive solutions to pass through future crisis.  Please feel free to send your comments onto : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

PARIS – European leaders have devoted scant attention to the future of the eurozone since July 2012, when Mario Draghi, the European Central Bank’s president, famously committed to do “whatever it takes” to save the common currency. For more than four years, they have essentially subcontracted the eurozone’s stability and integrity to the central bankers. But, while the ECB has performed the job skillfully, this quiet, convenient arrangement is coming to an end, because no central bank can solve political or constitutional conundrums. Europe’s heads of state and government would be wise to start over and consider options for the eurozone’s future, rather than letting circumstances decide for them.

So far, Europe’s leaders have had little appetite for such a discussion. In June 2015, they only paid lip service to a report on the euro’s future by the presidents of the various European institutions. A few weeks later, the issue briefly returned to the agenda when eurozone leaders spent a long late-July night arguing about whether to kick out Greece; but their stated intention to follow up and address underlying problems was short-lived. Finally, plans to respond to the Brexit shock by strengthening the eurozone were quickly ditched, owing to fear that reform would prove too divisive.

gratte ciel 2016

The issue, however, has not gone away. Although the monetary anesthetics administered by the ECB have reduced market tensions, nervousness has reemerged in the run-up to the Italian constitutional referendum on December 4. By end-November spreads between Italian and German ten-year bunds reached 200 basis points, a level not seen since 2014.

The worrying state of several Italian banks is one reason for the mounting concern. Brexit, and the election of a US president who advocates Americanism instead of globalism and dismisses the EU, adds the risk that voters, rather than markets, will call into question European monetary integration. Anti-euro political parties are on the rise in all major eurozone countries except Spain. In Italy, they may well command a majority.

On the economic front, the eurozone has much unfinished business. The banking union, launched in June 2012 to sever the interdependence of banks and states, has made good progress but is not yet complete. Competitiveness gaps between eurozone members have diminished, and external imbalances within it have abated, but largely thanks to the compression of domestic demand in Southern Europe; saving flows from North to South have not resumed. Unemployment gaps remain wide.

The eurozone still lacks a common fiscal mechanism as well, and Germany has flatly rejected the European Commission’s recent attempt to promote a “positive stance” in countries with room to boost spending. Of course, when the next recession hits, fiscal stability is likely to be in dangerously short supply.

Finally, the governance of the eurozone remains excessively cumbersome and technocratic. Most ministers, not to mention legislators, appear to have become lost in a procedural morass.

This unsatisfactory equilibrium may or may not last, depending on political or financial risks – or, most likely, the interaction between them. So the question now is how to hold a fruitful discussion to map out possible responses. The obstacles are twofold: First, there is no longer any momentum toward “more Europe”; on the contrary, a combination of skepticism about Europe and reluctance concerning potential transfers constitutes a major stumbling block. And, second, views about the nature and root causes of the euro crisis differ across countries. Given the dearth of political capital to spend on European responses, and disagreement on what the problem is and how to solve it, governments’ excess of caution is hardly surprising.

Both obstacles can be overcome. For starters, discussion of the eurozone’s future should not be framed as necessarily leading to further integration. The goal should be to make the eurozone work, which may imply giving more powers to the center in some fields, but also less in others. Fiscal responsibility, for example, should not be reduced to centralized enforcement of a common regime. It is possible to design a policy framework that embodies a more decentralized approach, empowering national institutions to monitor budgetary behavior and overall fiscal sustainability.

In fact, some steps in this direction have already been taken. Going further would imply making governments individually responsible for their misconduct – in other words, making partial debt restructuring possible within the eurozone. Such an approach would raise significant difficulties, if only because transiting to such a regime would be a hazardous journey; but options of this sort should be part of the discussion.

To overcome the second obstacle, the discussion should not start by addressing the legacy problems. Distributing a burden between creditors and debtors is inevitably acrimonious, because it is a purely zero-sum game. The history of international financial relations demonstrates that such discussions are inevitably delayed and necessarily adversarial when they take place. So the issue should not be addressed first. The seemingly realistic option of starting with immediate problems before addressing longer-term issues is only superficially attractive. In reality, discussions should start with the features of the permanent regime to be established in the longer run. Participants should explore logically coherent options until they determine if they can agree on a blueprint. It is only when agreement on a blueprint for the future has been reached that the path toward realizing it should be discussed.

There are no quick fixes to the eurozone’s problems. But one thing is clear: the lack of genuine discussion on possible futures is a serious cause for concern. Silence is not always golden; for the sake of Europe’s future, the hush surrounding the common currency should be broken as soon as possible.

December 1st, 2016

Jean Pisani-Ferry is a professor at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, and currently serves as Commissioner-General of France Stratégie, a policy advisory institution in Paris.

Dow to Gold ratio - 100 year historical chart

Among the services provided by Swiss ProfilInvest through specific Partners, precious metals remains one source of assets diversification and of real value.

The chart herebelow demonstrates the current value of the famous index of US companies, the Dow Jones Industrials, compared to gold in US dollars and not repriced for inflation. Higher the ratio, cheaper the gold price will be. Naturally, for a Swiss, a European or a Chinese, resident, parameters should be updated.

Please feel free to contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. whether you need advices.

Article published on December 1st, 2016,

This interactive chart tracks the ratio of the Dow Jones Industrial Average to the price of gold. The number tells you how many ounces of gold it would take to buy the Dow on any given month. Previous cycle lows have been 1.94 ounces in February of 1933 and 1.29 ounces in January of 1980. (From Macrotrends.net)

dow to gold ratio 100 year historical chart 2016 12 07 macrotrends

Blockchain and Bitcoin new technology

Inefficiencies are often perpetuated not by a lack of technology, but by (historical) structures. Blockchain technology is therefore not a patent solution for change, but it does provide an opportunity to make change.

Disruptive technologies require time to develop, mature and unfurl their full potential. Not every innovation succeeds, though, and it remains to be seen how the application of blockchain technology will develop.

Following the revolutionary beginnings with bitcoin, the prevailing view now seems to be that blockchain applications will spread rather more gradually. One might therefore speak of evolution rather than revolution. Before we can even ask questions about the broader use of this technology, we must first be sure that using this new technology is at least as secure, efficient and cost-effective in financial transactions as conventional technology.

Blockchain technology could become a game changer, in the financial industry and, perhaps in particular, beyond. The potential of blockchain technology is often compared to that of the internet. It should be remembered that it took some time before the truly beneficial applications of the internet emerged. With blockchain, we are only at the very beginning of a potential development of this kind.

Innovations are the lifeblood of a continually developing economy. Moreover, evolution processes are never linear. The first great wave of euphoria, which was also seen in the media, is being followed by a phase of checking, weighing-up and consolidation, before new offers and technologies are rolled out on a broad scale.

Ladies and gentlemen, Goethe once said: "We know accurately only when we know little; with knowledge doubt increases."

My impression is that with the increasing efforts being devoted to blockchain technology, doubts will also increase as to whether this technology can meet the expectations being placed on it, which in some cases are extremely high. The question that we want to examine in more detail in this workshop is what specific doubts we have and whether the technology can overcome them.

Carl-Ludwig Thiele Member of the Executive Board of the Deutsche Bundesbank, at the 6th Central Banking Workshop 2016, Eltville, 21 November 2016.

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