A roundup of what The Globe and Mail's market strategist Scott Barlow is reading this morning on the World Wide Web.
For the record, I have no view on the Keystone XL pipeline itself, in isolation. If, for instance, blocking the pipeline has no measurable effect on energy consumption and merely entrenches the current status quo of crude by rail and high transport costs that reduce employment growth, it's hard to see what's been gained. If, on the other hand, a veto of Keystone is part of a package that at least partially addresses transportation issues and, again for instance, increases subsidies and research for solar power, I would anxiously read all expert opinions on the matter.
Investors in Canada's pipeline and energy sectors should be aware that the current state of Keystone-related political discussion does not seem conducive to productive outcomes. The normally mild-mannered Streetwise Professor, who is also a professor of finance and energy policy at the University of Houston, was stunned by the reaction to his attempt to state the facts on the Keystone XL pipeline. And, while he uses some terminology I wouldn't, it provides a clear example of the heightened tensions in the United States. There are also, buried amongst the apoplexy, some interesting facts regarding oil production by aboriginal peoples.
Again, I don't pretend to have the answers here – energy policy is vastly complicated and I prefer to wait for expert opinions. But I do hope policy in the end is based on facts, including those on climate change.
"Perhaps fittingly, a post on the land of the looney brings out the lunatics " – Streetwise Professor
Halliburton Corp announced a $35-billion (U.S.) takeover of rival Baker Hughes Inc. in what is likely to be the first of many energy deals with consolidation as the goal. Baker Hughes stock has been smashed in recent weeks and the takeover can easily be viewed as a lifeline.
"Halliburton and Baker Hughes reach agreement to combine in stock and cash transaction " – Reuters, Globe and Mail
Japan's huge miss on gross domestic product growth highlights what is becoming a two-speed world where the American economy (and hopefully Canada's by extension) and everyone else scrambles desperately to prevent the downward spiral of deflation. The euro zone and Japan seem particularly at risk while China's outlook remains murky.
"Japan's surprising recession clouds fiscal future" – Reuters
"Europe is looking at a Japanese-style lost decade" – Meghan Green, Bloomberg (video)
"Bloomberg survey of euro-area econ. indicators reveals economists continue to chisel away at inflation forecasts" (chart) – Twitter
Lying to voters on economic policy has been a productive political strategy since the dawn of time, but this column from The Economist is still worth reading:
"So much voter disquiet is linked to nostalgia for hazily-remembered golden decades when factories offered jobs for life, baby booms filled maternity wards and millions of families enjoyed the fruits of post-war prosperity (though women and non-whites may recall those years a bit differently). But coal mines, steel mills and factories have closed throughout the rich world, in countries with very different governments, labour laws and environmental rules. What all faced was an explosion in global competition, followed by a second wave of automation."
"The nostalgia trap" – The Economist
Tweet of the Day is from Josh Brown: "@reformedbroker U.S. companies with greater international exposure had much worse earnings and sales growth this quarter. Via @FactSet pic.twitter.com/YGscw0bRaU"
Diversion: A fascinating, occasionally depressing global survey asking citizens of every country to identify the biggest threat to their nation:
"Middle Easterners see religious and ethnic hatred as top global threat " – Pew Research
Follow Scott Barlow on Twitter @SBarlow_ROB