Wednesday, September 7, 2022

A Cold, Dark Winter - Vox Popoli

The numbers are not looking good for Europe.

We got a very shocking sense of the staggering numbers involved in the existential, crippling European crisis earlier today when Norwegian energy giant Equinor echoed what Zoltan Pozsar said in March, warning that “European energy trading risks grinding to a halt unless governments extend liquidity to cover margin calls of at least $1.5 trillion.” As Bloomberg put it, in its best non-Zoltan imitation, “aside from inflating bills and fanning inflation, the biggest energy crisis in decades is sucking up capital to guarantee trades amid wild price swings. That’s putting pressure on European Union officials to intervene to prevent energy markets from stalling.”

“Liquidity support is going to be needed,” Helge Haugane, Equinor’s senior vice president for gas and power, said in an interview. The issue is focused on derivatives trading, while the physical market is functioning, he said, adding that the company’s estimate for $1.5 trillion to prop up so-called paper trading is “conservative.””

In other words, massive amounts of newly-printed funding (because with yields blowing up, Europe’s fiscal stimulus will be over before it started unless central banks step in and backstop the latest energy hyperinflation bailout plans) will be required to avert an energy disaster. Alas, the final number will be even more massive, because overnight Goldman’s research team published a must read note (available to pro subs), in which the bank looked at the scale of the energy bill challenge, potential European government responses and industry implications, and quantified the total damage. The numbers are staggering:

According to Goldman, Italian household energy bills could rise from ~€150 to ~€600 in 2023. Some more details:

“For most families and industrial customers, energy bills are renegotiated every twelve months; on our estimates, energy bills for most consumers will peak this winter. We estimate a c.€500/month cost for power and gas currently, implying a c.200% increase vs. 2021 when average bills were c.€160/month. Energy bills could approach €600/month in a zero flows (from Russia) scenario we believe. “

The trigger for this exponential surge in costs: since January 2020, 1-year forward gas and power prices – usually the reference when signing new energy supply contracts for families or industrial customers – have each increased by more than 13x. The following exhibit shows this evolution, rebased to 100.

For Europe as a whole, this would be equivalent to a near €2 TRILLION increase in gas and power spending (equivalent to c.15% of GDP)… the math is simple: Europe can’t print more nat gas, oil, coal, etc, so one way or another, it will have to offset the surge in costs, first in commodities and then in all downstream chains, which in the very near future will mean governments will soon be subsidizing Europe’s cost of living as the alternative is a violent revolution.

This is not an exaggeration. I’ve heard of forward contracts with increases as much as 16x from very reliable sources, and that’s in Switzerland, which is in better shape, electricity-wise, than the UK, Germany, or France.

But the choice between inflationary subsidies and violent revolution is a false binary. There is a third and much better option.

It’s time for nationalist leaders to come forward, replace the failed globalists in the various European governments, end their retarded and self-destructive alliances with Ukraine, and make a peace with Russia that will inspire it to turn on both Nordstream 1 and Nordstream 2. The Europeans are going to have to surrender to Russia sooner or later, so they might as well do it sooner and minimize the economic consequences to their people and to their economies.