Apple stock v. gravity: guess who's winning
THE (PARA) GRAPH
Thanks to Howard Silverblatt of Standard and Poor's, here's a visual look at Apple's stock dominance. It's a little grainy, but Apple's market value is the purple line, the umm... hockey stick. As you can see, Apple first nosed ahead of GE, then Microsoft, then ExxonMobil. And look where it is now. Adjusted for inflation, Silverblatt notes Apple still lags the market value of pre-burst Microsoft in 1999. By his numbers, Apple stock would have to rise 37 percent to top that.
Pair-o-Graphs: Land of the rising … northeast Asia photovoltaic power
Yes, we know. Japan is soooo 23 years ago. Actually, grasshopper, it’s poised to be the next giant market in renewable energy. Starting July 1, Tokyo’s government gives out billions of dollars in subsidies to anyone who generates or sells solar energy. It’s a generous subsidy; solar producers will get paid double what Germans get (per unit of energy); triple what the Chinese earn. Zooming back: the chart above is energy giant BP’s look into the future. The left side projects coal and natural gas remaining big-big players in electricity. But, whoa look right: the largest increase comes from renewables, including solar and windpower. A global carbon deal may not be in the offing right now. But incentives in Germany, Italy, China, the Czech Republic, California, and now Japan are nudging this market toward scale and respectability.
PAIR-O-GRAPHS: Let’s remember how this healthcare fight got started
So much for the John Roberts put. The Scotus chief justice exercised his option to affirm the law. We all know why we’re having this national conversation in the first place (okay “conversation” may be too grown-up a term for what transpires inside our fair Beltway): American healthcare is unbelievably expensive. The chart above, reproduced with permission from a Kaiser Family Foundation primer, reminds us the average American spends nearly eight grand per year. That’s more than double our Euro 2012 finalists in Spain and Italy.
PAIR-O-GRAPHS: Rising energy addiction? Reduce (but don't recycle or reuse) your use of the phrase.
We’ve noted many energy pros’ observation that U.S. energy use may have peaked for good. As one book calls it, we’re reaching the end of energy obesity. How skinny? The chart above, from the Energy Department’s newest projections today, predicts each Joe and Jane the Plumber will buy less energy from here on out. That’s the green line (how nice, green). The brown one predicts a giant dropoff in what’s called energy intensity; think of it as how much work we get out of a barrel of oil. Makes me wonder about America’s latte-intensity per unit of gdp. The new hockey-stick chart?
PAIR-O-GRAPHS: The coming explosion in US oil production. Looney or no?
“I am Elmer J. Fudd, millionaire. I own a mansion and a yacht.” Yes, Saturday morning child, you recall that Bugs Bunny classic. Recent months have brought increasingly amplified pronouncements (here and here and here) on a new variation: “I am America, petro-state. I own unconventional and offshore oil.” The latest crystal-balling comes from Harvard Belfer Center fellow and former Italian oil exec Leonardo Maugeri. His paper Oil: The Next Revolution prophecies an “unprecedented upsurge” in crude supplies. He’s most excited about U.S. production from the controversial technology of hydraulic fracturing (but you can call me fracking). Eyeball the chart above, reproduced with permission, especially the dark green bar next to the U.S. See how it zooms up, passes Russia and approaches Saudi levels of 12-plus million barrels per day? That’s the idea. If that leads you muse about U.S. energy independence, several brainiacs consider you hare-brained (sorry). Michael Levi at the Council on Foreign Relations argues in a new paper the U.S. will keep burning more oil than we produce. And, he writes, even if Americans someday don’t import a single drop, we’d still be hostage to global uncertainty -- because oil sells for a global price, everywhere. In the coming weeks, Marketplace will be reporting more on this emerging debate, looney or not.
PAIR-O-GRAPHS: The Aubrey McClendon effect on U.S. energy production
There's a new chief in OKC, and name is not Durant. This morning at embattled natural-gas fracking giant Chesapeake Energy, a new chairman was announced. Archie Dunham, former chairman of oil and gas behemoth ConocoPhillips, takes the board's head seat on the board, one that founder Aubrey McClendon had sat in since Day 1 of the company. McClendon remains chief exec. So, at this moment of change, what has McClendon meant to American natural gas production? Supporters point to charts like the one above, showing U.S. production surging globally, recently displacing Russia at the top of the charts. McClendon's company, along with Oklahoma City-based Devon Energy, placed early, big bets on new technology to liberate natural gas stuck in underground shale rock. Independent oil-patch commentators observe McClendon's zeal may have obstructed his view of economics; in wildcatter fashion, his subordinates vastly overpaid for drilling leases. They racked up the debt. And in 2012 they discarded the de-facto insurance mechanism against low prices, hedging. Oklahoma City sources I talked to bet Aubrey McClendon will remain the risk-taker he always was, despite new, independent board oversight. One analyst likened the situation to retired baseball fireballer pitcher Randy Johnson: you never know if he'll throw a strike at the right point in the count, but don't you want him on your team?
PAIR-O-GRAPHS: Okay so how cheap is U.S. natural gas, really?
Raise your hand if you’re sick of hearing how American natural gas is our next global economic ATM. Or, on the other side of town, how the extraction process -- fracking -- fundamentally threatens our wellbeing.
Check out this chart, from BP’s highly cited Statistical Review of World Energy 2012. Catchy name, no? But the charts alone are worth the admission price. Compared with the rest of the world -- where prices are zooming hockey-stick northeast -- U.S. natural gas is a steal. And the graph doesn’t even reflect the plummeting prices of 2012 that have many producer balance sheets black and white and red all over (does the name Chesapeake Energy ring a bell).
North America’s natural gas glut, thanks to the industrious entrepreneur George Mitchell , has proponents crowing about U.S. energy security, opponents fretting about environmental risk. For its part, the fact-minded International Energy Agency hedges out loud with a question mark: are we entering a golden age of gas?
Pair-O-Graphs: Global fossil fuel subsidies: What's the issue?
THE VISUAL GRAPH
Count me as a late adopter of the term “Twitterstorm.” 100,000 tweets came in yesterday under the Twitter hashtag #endfossilfuelsubsidies, according to Jake Schmidt of the environmental group NRDC. At this week’s Rio +20 earth conference, ending subsidies for oil, gas and coal has become a prime war cry. It’s not a new engagement; world leaders at the 2009 G-20 conference in Pittsburgh agreed to phase out “inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption.” Why? The image above from the International Energy Agency – okay it’s not exactly a graph – provides a few rationales: subsidies get us to consume more, import more, undercut renewable energy investments. Exactly how much in subsidies we’re dealing with is subject to some tricky math, before we even mention the politics. The club of rich countries known as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (yes, they spell organization with an s, such the globalised bunch) estimates $409 billion, but that’s just help for energy buyers, not sellers (cool map here). If you include producer subsidies one study from groups with an enviro bent tallies nearly one trillion dollars a year. P.S on our program we noted oil and gas subsidies in the U.S. date back to the dawn of the tax code.
Pair-O-Graphs: Audrey Tong's adoption anniversary; a super-geek look at what might have been
Last week the five members of the Tongs family made our special weekday ice-cream run to Toby’s, our neighborhood creamery, to celebrate my daughter Audrey’s adoption anniversary. Eight years ago, we picked her up from Hunan, China; she now rules the universe from Arlington, Virginia. On these days, my wife Cathy and I wonder out loud what Audrey’s life might have been. America pessimists – who seem in extraordinary supply of late -- might surmise China is the better place for her. After all, their economy is catching up to ours! In this moment of hyperventilation, let’s recall the importance of the denominator. Even if you prefer a prism of us versus them, the Chinese have four times as many mouths to feed. The World Bank chart above shows China’s income per person, compared to the world average and the U.S. (great big nerd alert: the graph shows GDP per capita, PPP, current international $).
Pair-O-Graphs: China's low birth-rate equals demographic headwinds
Today on Marketplace we reported on China cutting interest rates, to boost its economy short-term. But here’s a longer-term problem: China will soon start to age rapidly.
THE VISUAL GRAPH:
When I was posted in China as a Marketplace bureau chief, a cabbie once asked me, “How do Americans celebrate Chinese New Year?” I blinked several times. They think it’s all about them, the way we think it’s all about us. If you listen to the echo chamber, Americans assume Beijing’s policies emanate from the Ministry of World Domination. In fact, like most countries they have their own problems in-house. Today’s graph, included in a research note today from UBS China economist Wang Tao, reminds us of a China-sized demographic imbalance on the way. Simply put, green on the chart means old people, blue means young people. Looking forward, China will resemble a Sarasota retirement community: lots of elderly dependents, not enough producers, inventors and entrepreneurs. But unlike Sarasota, China won’t be old and super-rich; by 2050, Goldman Sachs figures China’s GDP per person will be barely half of ours.