Interesting Caijing piece suggesting one under-appreciated factor behind China's recent coal-power crunch: Geology
There's a lot of descriptions of rhe sheer logistical difficulty of increasing output, especially from tricky underground mines in Shanxi, and especially while observing safety and environmental regulations.
This reminds me of the way, even before the autumn power crunch, coal mining prices had risen sharply in China in recent years: Image
Much of this happened at a time when official selling prices were kept in a roughly 520 yuan/ton to 570 yuan/ton band by the government, designed to guarantee cheap power prices.

But prices have been above those levels all year.
I think that helps explain the running down of end-user inventories throughout the year.

Power companies were refusing to buy at 650 yuan/ton, above the government target price, and were holding out for intervention that only came when it was too late. Image
Power companies had been warning about this situation for a while:… Image
Caijing concludes that a big part of getting production up and running is more availability of finance to ensure mines in Shanxi etc can make payroll etc.

This suggests to me that there are real problems with the 520-570 yuan price band, which in theory still holds.
China's power system is grounded on government-regulated coal prices that seem unrealistically low when you look at the cost of producing coal with minimal accidents and industrial pollution in China in 2021.
Shanxi's GDP has gone up about 50% since 2015! Inner Mongolia is one of the richest provinces in the country.

Xi has pushed for a situation where people in rural areas have a good and healthy quality of life and good incomes. That comes at a cost!
It seems to me that China's coal miners have juiced production in recent months in large part through temporary expedients — skipping maintenance, etc. This can't go on indefinitely.
At some point, then, China needs to face up to the way its drive for rural development is butting up against its drive for cheap energy.

You can have cheap coal power and a Shanxi that's a polluted hole. Or a more pleasant Shanxi and costlier coal power. It's hard to have both.

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More from @davidfickling

24 Nov
In general I agree 100% with what @mattyglesias says here, but in the specific case of Jamie Dimon I feel the more straightforward lesson is just that investment banking CEOs shouldn't make dickish comments about major clients.
This is not something they generally do! Bank CEOs are not famed for their quotable candour about their major clients!
Jamie Dimon 12 months ago might have said, "We were both founded by John Pierpont Morgan, but I think my compant will outlive General Electric."

He'd have been very right if he said it! But he could have expected to lose a lot of business with one of JPMorgan's biggest clients.
Read 6 tweets
24 Nov
I love some of the chortling of late that the UK! thought! it could decarbonize!

And yet fossil fuels are still occasionally tipping 50% of grid demand, how curious!

Here's some context.

In 2011, fossil fuels were 70.4% of demand:… Image
So far this year, they're about 40.5% of demand, a ~30 percentage point fall in a decade: Image
Occasionally, seasonal factors will tip that up above 50%, to be sure. But let's compare to where we thought we would be.

In 2011, the National Grid did a study of what decarbonization might look like.…
Read 7 tweets
23 Nov
One thought I have about this comment from Yan's excellent thread (do read the whole thing!):

"Regulatory factors" and "production capacity" in mining are not, IMO, as much a separatable dichotomy as this quote suggests.
For instance, how do you prevent fires in coal mines?

The best way is to avoid digging "gassy" deposits that let off a lot of methane; and regularly monitoring and servicing equipment and ensuring it's used within its rated capacity to ensure that you don't get sparks etc.
What happens when the order is to just produce more at all costs? You skip on maintenance, run machinery above its rated capacity, and look at reopening that geologically easy but riskily gassy deposit you mothballed in 2015.

The end result is more dead coal miners.
Read 7 tweets
22 Nov
Searing piece from @andymukherjee70 on the greater long-term cost of the misconceived introduction, and abandonment, of India's new farm laws:… via @bopinion
@andymukherjee70 @bopinion And here's @rpollard on what a dramatic moment it is to see Modi backtrack on a major policy like this:…
@andymukherjee70 @bopinion @rpollard I agree with Andy that the greater tragedy here is that a more consultative, thoughtful reform of India's farm economy might have provided the bedrock of the industrialization and growth the country so badly needs.

That prospect is now more distant:

Read 4 tweets
20 Nov
Absolutely vital thread on the role state credit has played in China locking down the battery materials supply chain:
To put this ~$100bn in lines if credit for China Moly, China Nonferrous and China Minmetals in context:

BHP, the world's biggest miner, has about $4bn in net debt.

Glencore, a huge miner with a vast credit-hungry commodity trading arm, has about $10bn.

Now, lines of credit aren't the same as net debt.

Net debt will be smaller because you net out cash; and you only count drawn-down borrowings in the credit facility as debt, whereas a line of credit is the whole facility.

Still, the differences are impossibly large.
Read 4 tweets
18 Nov
Does is make a difference that tennis isn't fundamentally a team sport, so its stars tend to speak their minds whereas the likes of the NBA were more easily cowed?
The counterpoint is the John Cena thing, but professional wrestling isn't exactly famous for its performers' fierce independence from the system:…
The other factor is that this is being led by sports*women*, and is not just a China thing but a #metoo thing too.
Read 4 tweets

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