Buffett, Trump, and the Future of Energy
All who celebrate the holiday know Thanksgiving is about two things: arguing your political stance with family and friends, and eating copious amounts of food.
I don’t mean to sound cynical, but as someone who just spent Thanksgiving Day avoiding debates by piling ever more potatoes and turkey onto a plate and scuttling away to the other room, it’s hard for me to feel the love.
The only political talk I got was a refreshingly simple statement out of my little cousin. After a particularly loud exclamation about our president-elect from the kitchen, she said:
“He’s just another guy in a suit.”
That he is.
That line hit hard, especially given the heated back-and-forth going on in the other room. It speaks to a point of view that more adults, and especially more investors, ought to have going into 2017.
Donald Trump is Just Another Politician
Whether or not you supported him, there’s no avoiding the fact that Trump is going to be our POTUS come January.
What does this mean for the state of the markets? For the country? For the world?
Honestly, no one knows.
But there are some details a lot of people are ignoring that can point us toward the likely outcomes.
The first of these is so obvious that it doesn’t even register: Trump is just another politician.
What this means is that he’s just gained the same job that 44 other men have done before, with the same checks and balances that every president has had since the position was founded. He’ll have to adhere to the same rules and follow the same complicated routes to get anything done as every one of his predecessors.
Another thing people tend to forget is that the president is not all-powerful.
If you’re imagining him sitting in the Oval Office in a crown and a cape, shouting orders at servants outside, you’re overreacting. A lot. That’s not how the presidency works, no matter how loud or smooth talking the candidate is.
There are checks and balances in place for a reason, and not even an all-Republican House and Senate are going to give The Donald unfettered control over the country.
And if you’re still worried, take heart at the words of Mr. Warren Buffett, who recently noted that “there are a lot of things said in campaigns that don’t happen after the election.”
That’s just one more point that many would do well to remember in the future.
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COP-22 Takes Precedence
Earlier this week, we began seeing reports of the success of this year’s climate change conference in Marrakech, Morocco. The 196 countries that agreed to cut down on carbon pollution last year began the harrowing process of making that dream into a concrete plan.
Unfortunately, there was no avoiding talk of our president-elect, who is known to be skeptical about the climate change issue.
Moreover, he’s claimed that he will bring the coal industry back from the brink of death, which has put many clean-energy investors on edge.
But it shouldn’t.
The attendees in Marrakech called for Trump’s cooperation in the clean energy plans already underway in several countries across the globe. At this point, he’s more than likely going to give it.
With most of the world against him on this point, it’s going to be even harder for the soon-to-be president to make good on this particular promise.
As Buffett says, Trump can talk a big game all he likes, but actually getting things done is another story entirely.
And that’s not all the illustrious investor had to say on the matter:
The stock market will be higher 10, 20 and 30 years from now and it would have been with Hillary and it will be with Trump.
No matter who’s in charge, the market will carry on. Business trumps political hoo-ha, and global market trends will trump Trump’s plans.
The meeting in Marrakech is proof enough that the world is ready for cleaner energy solutions. This could mean more solar and wind power, the recovery of nuclear, even an increase in natural gas use.
What it won’t mean is the return of the coal industry. It’s too late for that.
So instead of focusing on Trump’s hypothetical future, it’s time to start looking into the real changes we can already see coming...
Some smaller countries including Costa Rica and Denmark are running on 100% clean energy right now. Others have made goals to be at a majority renewables within the next few years.
Larger countries like the U.S., China, and India may indeed be installing new coal power capacity... but not enough to stop the decline of the industry.
The International Energy Agency sees coal companies cutting capacity to slow the bleeding of profits for the next five years at least. Natural gas has already become the biggest energy source in the U.S. and is expected to take the top spot from coal in the global energy mix by 2040.
The IEA sees natural gas and renewables as the biggest winners in the energy race.
If the dinnertime politics are still getting you down, just remember: Trump is just another guy in a suit, and in this case it really is him against the world.
Until next time,
Energy and Capital