Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Biden Halts Oil/Gas Leases Again Even As Russia Ramps Up its Invasion of Ukraine

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The Cautious Optimism Correspondent for Economic Affairs and Other Egghead Stuff thinks President Biden's sense of timing leaves something to be desired. With Brent Crude futures breaking $100 on news of a full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine and global shortages of energy a very real possible consequence of western-imposed Russia sanctions one might think legal hairsplitting over climate change definitions could take secondary priority right now.

(AP story dated this Tuesday, February 22, 2022... the invasion began on the 24th)

Read story "Biden halts oil, gas leases amid legal fight on climate cost" at:

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Anatomy of a Deception: The Press Rips “The Largest Oil and Gas Companies” For the Sin of Returning to Profitability

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7 MIN READ - The Cautious Optimism Correspondent for Economic Affairs and Other Egghead Stuff uncovers yet more dishonest reporting on the American, and for that matter entire world’s, energy industry.

(Credit to CO Nation reader R.S. for directing me to this article by the U.K. Guardian)

It’s common knowledge that the western media generally loathe petroleum.

Therefore it was no surprise when many news outlets recently seized upon a report on the energy sector’s return to profitability in 2021, with the heavy-left leaning U.K. Guardian using it to slam Big Oil.

According to the Guardian’s indictment “the largest oil and gas companies made a combined $174bn in profits in the first nine months of the year.”

“The largest oil and gas companies” is already inaccurate as we shall see in a moment, but the Guardian then went on to criticize oil companies for paying or reinstating dividends and share buybacks while… 

“Gasoline prices have hit a seven-year high in the U.S. due to the rising cost of oil, with Americans now paying about $3.40 for a gallon of fuel compared with around $2.10 a year ago.”

The entire article also focuses nearly exclusively on the United States, lamenting gas prices for U.S. commuters, frequently referring to Joe Biden, the White House, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, and the American Petroleum Institute.

The only foray outside the U.S. is a quick mention of two European oil majors: Shell and BP.


So what’s wrong with the Guardian’s article? There are so many misrepresentations, omissions, and errors to list, so without further ado let’s start with a numbered list.

1) Being a close follower of the energy industry, the Economics Correspondent instantly noticed the $174 billion figure sounded far too high for American oil companies or even American firms + BP and Shell. 

Even throwing in the next largest multinationals which aren't even on the list, French Total SE and Italian Eni, the number still sounded too high.

And it was.

Let’s start with the core data. After a little research the Correspondent found the study. The link was excluded from the Guardian article but it can be found with a web search and appears at this article's end.

The study was released by “,” an activist organization described by even Wikipedia as “a left-wing political group created in the summer of 2008. Its goal is to reduce political donations to conservative 527 groups.”

And just five pages into the report was the list of “the largest oil and gas companies” and their nine-month profits for Q1 through Q3 of 2021. Here’s a quick glance:

  1. Saudi Aramco: $77.6 billion (Saudi Arabia)
  2. Enbridge: $17.6 billion (Canada)
  3. Shell:  $15.3 billion (UK)
  4. ExxonMobil: $14.4 billion (USA)
  5. BP: $10.8 billion (UK)
  6. Chevron:  $10.6 billion (USA)
  7. Marathon Petroleum: $9.3 billion (USA)
  8. Equinor: $6.0 billion (Norway)
  9. ConocoPhillips: $5.5 billion (USA)
  10. Pioneer: $1.4 billion (USA)
  11. Devon Energy: $1.3 billion (USA)
  12. APA Corporation: $1.0 billion (USA)
  13. Halliburton: $648 million (USA)
  14. TC Energy: $525 million (Canada)
  15. Occidental Petroleum: $385 million (USA)
  16. Hess Corp: $380 million (USA)
  17. Chesapeake Energy: $321 million (USA)
  18. Marathon Oil: $297 million (USA)
  19. TechnipFMC: $223 million (France-UK)
  20. Cabot Oil & Gas: $220 million (USA)
  21. Plains All American: $147 million (USA)
  22. Phillips 66: $44 million (USA)
  23. Ovintiv: $32 million (Canada)
  24. Noble Corporation: $14 million (UK)

And sure enough, all 24 added together made $174 billion in net income.

But you might notice that the most profitable company on the list, which made more than the bottom 21 combined, is not an American company at all: Saudi Aramco or the Saudi government’s national oil company.

And all 15 combined American companies only made $45.9 billion, not $174 billion. 

In fact, the 15 U.S. firms accounted for just one-quarter of the “shock-effect” total.

2) So where did the rest of the profits come from?

Saudi Aramco alone—the Saudi government’s state-owned enterprise and largest OPEC producer—made $77.6 billion or almost half the profits.

An OPEC state-operation sat atop the study’s profit pyramid, and the Guardian never mentioned it.

In fact, only one other state-owned firm was listed—Norway’s Equinor—which made $6.0 billion.

So two state-owned companies made nearly twice as much as 15 U.S. companies.


3) Also, some of the U.S. firms mentioned are primarily natural gas producers (Chesapeake and Cabot) which has nothing to do with gasoline prices at the pump, and many of the others receive a large share of their profits from natural gas too. 

In late 2018 ExxonMobil was the #2 producer of U.S. natural gas with Devon Energy at #13 and Chevron at #15. Their natural gas profits have virtually no bearing on gasoline prices at American pumps.

4) Furthermore the U.S. list is dotted with smaller companies that made statistically insignificant profits. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to place companies like Cabot, Plains All American, and Phillips 66 on the list with profits of $220 million, $147 million, and $44 million (!) when ExxonMobil’s $14.3 billion profit is 35 times greater than all three combined.

The Economics Correspondent can’t read the minds of the “study’s” authors, but the strange combination of many tiny U.S. firms with two European supermajors and only two state-owned firms, one of which completely dominates the profit picture (Saudi Aramco), looks like mathematical manipulation: an attempt to inflate the total profit figure as much as possible with just one or two state-owned enterprises while portraying primarily private U.S. firms as hosing consumers.

5) Returning to the $45.9 billion made by the bulk of the U.S. energy industry in 2021…

The Guardian made no mention of the fact that companies like ExxonMobil, BP, and Shell lost $22.4 billion, $20.3 billion, and $21.6 billion respectively the year prior (over $64 billion in losses), when Covid shutdowns decimated worldwide energy demand and oil futures contract prices incredibly went negative in early 2020.

Why shouldn’t these firms reinstate dividends and share buybacks once they return to profitability? Are they not allowed to deliver a return to shareholders while making money for the service of bringing energy to the world?


6) In those same first nine months of 2021 Apple made $74.1 billion. That’s a single tech company netting far more than the entire U.S. energy industry.

Google made $55.4 billion, more than the 15 listed U.S. energy companies’ combined $45.9 billion.

Microsoft also made more: $48.8 billion in the most recent three quarters. 

I haven’t seen a Guardian article attacking Apple, Microsoft, or Google for gouging consumers yet but perhaps it’s out there. After all they’re private companies too, but not being “climate criminals” the Guardian probably hates them a bit less intensely.

7) Or let’s talk about profit margins.

In the first nine months of 2021 ExxonMobil did clear a net profit of $14.2 billion—on revenues of $200.7 billion—for a net profit margin of 7.1%.

That was after paying $5 billion in U.S. corporate income taxes, $15.9 billion in sales taxes, and $24.3 billion in other taxes and international duties for a total tax bill of $45.2 billion.

Exxon paid over three dollars in taxes for each one dollar of net profit.

I’m sure politicians on both sides of the Atlantic are warming up their “don’t pay their fair share” speeches right now. And most New York Times and U.K. Guardian readers will actually believe it.

Meanwhile Apple made $74.1 billion on revenues of $282 billion for a profit margin of 27.2% after paying $11.8 billion in taxes. 

That makes Apple five times more profitable than Exxon, with a 3.8 times fatter profit margin, paying one-quarter the actual tax bill, and one-fifth the tax rate.

Google’s net margin was 30.4%.

Microsoft’s was 36.4% for the entire 2021 fiscal year.

There’s no shortage of tech, consumer staples, or pharmaceutical companies that generate far higher profit margins than U.S. energy.

8 ) As we near the end, there’s the important issue of other countries.

The Guardian and study omitted nearly all the world’s state-owned energy firms—other than behemoth Saudi Aramco which it used to inflate the group's bottom line and then pin it on private western energy companies.

The reserves, operations, and profits of most state-owned companies, mostly OPEC members, dwarf private multinationals like ExxonMobil. If the Guardian really wanted to attack energy companies for making big profits off the backs of American commuters they would have targeted national oil companies, not Exxon, BP, or Shell.

In fact, in what’s no surprise to those who know the oil and gas business, the Wall Street Journal reports that in terms of controlled oil and gas reserve holdings, the top 13 energy companies on earth are all state-owned.

From the Journal:

“Name the biggest oil company in the world. ExxonMobil? British Petroleum? Royal Dutch Shell? In fact, the 13 largest energy companies on Earth, measured by the reserves they control, are now owned and operated by governments. Saudi Aramco, Gazprom (Russia), China National Petroleum Corp., National Iranian Oil Co., PetrĂ³leos de Venezuela, Petrobras (Brazil) and Petronas (Malaysia) are all larger than ExxonMobil, the largest of the multinationals.”

Furthermore, a statistic that would shock the world’s lefties:

“Collectively, multinational oil companies produce just 10% of the world's oil and gas reserves. State-owned companies now control more than 75% of all crude oil production."

So the Guardian’s citation that $174 billion was made by “the largest oil and gas companies” is a falsehood, plain and simple. The number was derived from a list that removed at least eleven of the world’s largest oil and gas companies—all state-owned.

9) And just why doesn’t the Guardian criticize the national oil companies of Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait, Russia, China, Venezuela, Iran, and others?

The leftist Guardian loves nationalization (ie. government takeovers of private industry). 

In the last three years the Guardian has run opinion pieces calling for the British government to nationalize the water, electricity, energy, railroad, and broadband Internet industries. And the paper is opposed to any hint of even partial privatization of Britain’s already government-run healthcare system.

It also praised Hugo Chavez’s socialist government’s policies (including nationalization of key industries) all the way up to late 2013, when the rest of the world had long since seen the disaster Venezuela had become.

The report's accounting of Canada-based Enbridge's profit appears to be in error.

Enbridge's SEC filed 10-Q for 3Q2021 reports nine-months "earnings attributable to shareholders" of CA$4.26 billion (~US$3.36 billion), not US$17.6 billion.

This reduces the overall group's income to $160.8 billion and elevates Saudi Aramco's profit to greater than 22 of the 23 remaining companies combined.


Sources for the story:

Guardian article: study (24 companies listed on page 5)

ExxonMobil nine months 2021 and full year 2020 results:

Apple nine months 2021 results:

Guardian nationalization of industry op-eds:

Guardian praises Venezuela in late 2013:

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Bay Area Residents Asked to Allow Vagrants into Their Homes to Tackle Homelessness Crisis

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The Cautious Optimism Correspondent for Economic Affairs and Other Egghead Stuff hears Nancy Pelosi will step forward and offer three to move into her $9 million Pacific Heights pad any moment now.

Read article at:

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Left Coast Correspondent: CNN Racks Up Impressive String of Sexual Harassment/Assault Charges, Lawsuits, and Offenses

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1 MIN READ - The Cautious Optimism Correspondent for Left Coast Affairs and Other Inexplicable Phenomena thinks there might be a pattern of behavior at CNN here.

1) Oct 2020 - CNN commentator Jeffrey Toobin is suspended for, shall we say, "manually pleasing himself" live on a Zoom work conference call. However he’s back on the job eight months later.

2) Dec 2021 - CNN anchor Don Lemon is sued for allegedly assaulting a man sexually in a bar. The plaintiff and alleged victim state the network is "rife with predators and perverts."

3) Dec 2021 - CNN primetime anchor Chris Cuomo resigns in light of accusations he sexually harassed a coworker. Shortly before those accusations came to light Cuomo was also found in state Attorney General investigation documents to have attempted to manage media coverage of his brother, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is fighting off nearly a dozen sexual harassment suits of his own.

4) Dec 2021 - CNN producer John Griffin is arrested for soliciting minors across state lines for paid sexual favors.

5) Dec 2021 - CNN producer Rick Saleeby is arrested for, in the words of the Fairfax County Child Exploitation Squad, "serious allegations involving potential juvenile victims."

6) Feb 2022 - CNN president Jeff Zucker abruptly resigns, citing failure to disclose a consensual relationship with a "close coworker."

So far the Correspondent has yet to see frequency of media coverage of this rapid string of lawsuits, investigations, and arrests coming anywhere close to that of the 2016 Roger Ailes story at Fox News--a single offender.

Could the USA’s newspapers and networks just not yet have noticed a pattern?

(links for each story below although they're all easy enough to find with an online search)

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

“Red Scare McCarthyism”—A Saule Omarova Postmortem.

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8 MIN READ - A dispatch from the Cautious Optimism Correspondent for Economic Affairs and Other Egghead Stuff.

It’s been two months since Professor Saule Omarova withdrew her nomination for Chairperson of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, one of the two federal bank regulator agencies.

President Joe Biden’s nomination of Omarova was controversial from the start. For CO Readers who didn’t follow her confirmation process closely, here are a few of her resume’s more glaring accomplishments:

-Omarova was born in the Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan and was a member of the Komsomol, the Soviet Youth Communist League.

-She attended Moscow State University on a Vladimir Lenin academic scholarship. Her thesis was “Karl Marx's Economic Analysis and the Theory of Revolution in The Capital.”

-After immigrating to the United States and pursuing an academic career, she wrote papers proposing all private bank accounts be nationalized under the central bank (the Federal Reserve) in “an overtly radical reform.”

-Her academic writings call for removing private banks from all credit and lending decisions, centralizing national credit policy at the Federal Reserve—in her words to “effectively end banking as we know it.”

-Her academic writings have advocated government control of wages and setting “systemically important prices.” As she tweeted in 2019: “Say what you will about old USSR, there was no gender pay gap there. Market doesn’t always ‘know best’.” 

-As recently as 2019 Omarova joined a Facebook page dedicated to Marxist and socialist analysis and discussion.

-As recently as 2021, the same year of her nomination, Omarova was recorded in a policy webconference asserting that “A lot of the smaller players in that industry [coal, oil, and gas] will probably go bankrupt in short order, at least we want them to go bankrupt if we want to tackle climate change.”

-In another 2021 online conference she touted "The way we basically get rid of those carbon financiers is we starve them of their sources of capital."

-When confronted with surefire opposition from the banking industry and concerns from Congressional Republicans, and even some Democrats, Omarova dismissed the pushback as racial and sex discrimination, explaining in a television interview that “I am an easy target: an immigrant, a woman, a minority. I don’t look like your typical comptroller of the currency, I have a different history. I am easy to demonize.”

OK now that we’ve established Omarova’s controversial background, her nomination was effectively doomed when two Democrats on the Senate Banking Committee and at least one other Senate Democrat opposed her confirmation. She withdrew in December.

The Economics Correspondent was curious who, if anyone, would defend Omarova as victim and martyr and he didn’t have to look far. 

Sherrod Brown (D-OH) isn’t exactly a household name, but he chairs the Senate Banking Committee and when Omarova withdrew her nomination he didn’t pull any punches.

From the New York Times:

“’In a relentless smear campaign reminiscent of red scare McCarthyism, they have shamefully attacked her family, her heritage and her commitment to American ideals,’ he [Brown] said.”

Let’s take apart that statement for a minute.

Senator Joseph McCarthy famously went after alleged communists in the early 1950’s, launching investigations and holding hearings where he subpoenaed suspected witnesses before his committee. 

He routinely asked them “Are you or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?” 

While many of his targets were indeed Communist Party members, communist operatives, or communist sympathizers, some were also innocent and lost their private sector jobs simply due to the stigma of being subjected to public investigation. For that reason, although McCarthy was often proven right both at the time and posthumously, his method of operation’s tendency to leave personal destruction of innocent witnesses in its wake, and the term McCarthyism itself, carry a negative connotation. 


So, just how much did Omarova’s nomination hearings resemble “red scare McCarthyism?” 

The answer is not much.

1) First and foremost, McCarthyism is criticized for asking witnesses if they “are or have ever been a member of the Communist Party,” even when they weren’t, and destroying their reputation just by virtue of being asked on such a grand stage.

Well there’s no mystery about Omarova. The world already knows she was a member of the Communist Party in the USSR, and when asked by Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) if she ever resigned her membership she wouldn’t say no, only replying “As far as I remember how the Soviet Union worked at certain age you automatically stop being a member.”

In Omarova’s case there was no McCarthyite attempt to brand her with Communist Party credentials that didn’t exist. It was public knowledge that she was a member of the Youth Communist League and she couldn’t answer if she’s no longer one today.

2) There was no McCarthyite smearing or misrepresentation of her policy views. She has openly called for government nationalization of all private bank accounts and takeover of credit/lending policy decisions, effectively removing the private banking industry from the national deposit-taking and lending process.

3) It’s not a “red scare” tactic to quote Omarova’s own words, calling for using government control of the banking system to “get rid of those carbon financiers…” and “…starve them of their sources of capital." She said it herself on video just months before her nomination. It's all on YouTube.

4) Omarova is hardly going to lose her job or become a social outcast resulting from these hearings. In fact the Correspondent will wager a high-paid commentator/contributor position is hers for the asking at MSNBC or the New York Times. She only need hit the reply button. 


Senator Brown’s statement demonstrates that he thinks “red scare McCarthyism” is a shameful tactic. To Brown, pinning blame for everything on Moscow and shadowy Russian figures engaged in conspiracy to undermine U.S. democracy—all without evidence and for the purpose of destroying people—was an immoral political tactic that should never be repeated and has no place in American society not to mention the U.S. Senate.

1) But in 2017, in a call for investigations that mimic McCarthy’s to a tee:

“U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown wants an independent commission to review any Russian connections among President Donald Trump and his campaign and administration officials, including former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.”

-From “Ohio's Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown Wants an Independent Investigation of Trump-Russia Connections,” Ohio Public Radio

2) Furthermore several innocent people were destroyed by the same McCarthyite investigations Brown advocated. 

In pursuit of all shadowy things Russian, General Michael Flynn was victimized by a “get him to lie” FBI entrapment ruse. The lives and reputations of Roger Stone and George Papadopoulos, neither of whom had any involvement with Moscow or “Russian collusion,” and the latter of whom sidestepped an attempted entrapment ambush by FBI mole Stefan Halper, were also left wrecked in the investigation’s wake.

3) In February of 2020, seven months after the Mueller Report concluded ““[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities,” Senator Brown wrote a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo alleging:

“It’s clear the President’s relationship with Putin is questionable, for whatever reasons. And we know from intelligence stories already that the President is trying to cheat in 2020, that the Russians are helping the president again… …Of course he has, because they’re helping him… …because he’s so close to the Russians.”

-From “Sen. Sherrod Brown says Trump is working with Russia to help his re-election,”

4) In September of 2020, thirteen months before Joe Biden nominated Omarova to the OCC Chair, Brown continued with his personal brand of red scare McCarthyism:

“Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown cited New York Times reporting about President Trump's tax records as another reason to suspect that Russian President Vladimir Putin ‘has something’ on President Trump. Citing Trump's relationship with ‘outlaw" international bank Deutsche Bank during an interview Tuesday morning with MSNBC's Stephenie Ruhle.”


Finally, a historical correction that the Correspondent wishes Senator John Kennedy had made to Omarova during her testimony.

When questioned about her Soviet communist credentials and openly stated views on nationalizing private bank accounts, Omarova denied strongly any association to “that ideology.” As evidence she passionately cited her own family’s persecution under the Soviets.

Omarova: “My family suffered under the communist regime. I grew up without knowing half of my family. My grandmother herself escaped death twice under the Stalin regime.”

While her family’s sad story is consistent with those of countless millions during the Stalin era, it does absolutely nothing to prove she or her family weren’t or aren’t communists.

Any student of Soviet history knows that Stalin killed millions of communists himself. In fact, there’s an old saying that “Stalin killed more communists than Hitler did” which is true.

Under Stalin it didn’t matter if you were a communist or not. During the Great Terror he had five of the seven original 1917 Politburo members executed. The only reason he didn’t execute all seven is that the sixth, Vladimir Lenin, had already died in 1924, and the seventh was Stalin himself.

Of the 1966 delegates who attended the 1934 17th Soviet Communist Party Congress, only 858 returned to the 1939 18th Party Congress (the Great Terror being conducted in the years between), the rest shot or sent to the Arctic gulag by Stalin.

Of the 81 top generals and admirals of the Soviet armed forces that Stalin purged (out of 103), many were communists.

Of the nearly 10 million Soviets starved to death by Stalin in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, and Western Siberia, many hundreds of thousands were communists.

As Stalin handed out NKVD execution quotas to every city, town, and village of the USSR, ordering “the arrest and execution of X enemies of the people by deadline Y,” many of those hung or shot were communists. The local police cared only about meeting their execution targets, not party membership.

Millions of victims of the Soviet gulag prison system were communists. 

Many of the millions of Soviet satellite victims who were forcibly relocated off their land were communists.

Many communists fled the USSR, only to relocate to the West and preach that Lenin and Stalin “didn’t practice real communism” while remaining steadfast communists in their new homes.

So the fact that Omarova’s family fell victim to Stalin doesn’t prove in any way that they were not communists or that Omarova herself isn’t. The Correspondent wishes Kennedy had called her out on her history, but still found his line of questioning revealing enough.

If you want to see the brief confirmation hearings exchange between Kennedy and Omarova ("I don't know whether to call you professor or comrade") watch video below:

Sunday, February 6, 2022