Renewable Energy in Deutschland

The WSJ has an article about the failure of renewable energy in Germany. Some interesting statistics:

German households pay nearly 36 U.S. cents a kilowatt-hour of electricity, versus an average of 13 cents in America

Wow. And I thought Northern Illinois was high.

A new study from the RWI Leibniz Institute for Economic Research finds that 61% of Germans wouldn’t want to pay even one eurocent more per kilowatt-hour of electricity to fund more renewables.

Can’t blame them.

By one estimate, businesses and households paid an extra €125 billion in increased electricity bills between 2000 and 2015 to subsidize renewables, on top of billions more in other handouts. Germans join Danes in paying the highest household electricity rates in Europe, and German companies pay near the top among industrial users.

Yet somehow they manage to maintain full employment plus and be globally competitive with a highly export oriented economy.





EU Consolidation: AM Still Growing

The Financial Times has an article (that’s not behind their paywall) discussing AM’s purchase of Taranto Steelworks in Italy. It goes on to discuss consolidation of the industry in the EU and a potential joint venture between AM, Tata and ThyssenKrup. Interesting because Thyssen has disclosed their intention to exit steelmaking.

Update 11/12/17: Looks like the Italian authorities aren’t so sure about AM’s purchase: link. And AM is now eyeing Essar: link


American Mobility

Americans have been known for being more mobile than other nationalities. Myself, my family and most of the people I know have moved multiple times to multiple states for multiple reasons, but typically for a job or to take care of an elderly parent. The Economist had an interesting article that mentioned changes in American and European mobility. From the article:

The percentage of Americans who move across state lines each year has fallen by half since the 1990s. The typical American is more footloose than the average European, yet lives less than 30 kilometres from his parents. Demographic shifts help explain this, including the rise in two-earner households and the need to care for ageing family members. But the bigger culprit is poor policies. Soaring housing costs in prosperous cities keep newcomers out. In Europe a scarcity of social housing leads people to hang on to cheap flats. In America the spread of state-specific occupational licensing and government benefits punishes those who move. The pension of a teacher who stays in the same state could be twice as big as that of a teacher who moves mid-career.

I can certainly believe that US housing prices are stopping people from relocating.

Each year just over 2% of Americans move across state lines, whereas only 1.5% of Europeans move between regions within their home country. Despite the freedom of movement created by the EU’s single market, only 0.37% move from one country to another. But mobility in America is on the decline.

It is very surprising to me that only 0.37% of Europeans move between countries. I understand wanting to stay around family, but it seems like one of the main opportunities of EU membership is the ability for individuals to pursue employment opportunities in other countries.


100 Years On

The Russian communist revolution happened 100 years ago this week. The Wall Street Journal has an essay summarizing communism’s global rise and what’s left of it.

Chinese Steel Capacity Cuts

The Economist has an article discussing capacity cuts of commodities in China.

China needs lots of material to build all its homes, trains and tunnels. Even so, it produces more than it can use. It accounts for roughly half of global production of steel, coal, aluminium, glass and cement. By one oft-cited gauge, China’s unused steel capacity equals the total annual output of the next four biggest producers (Japan, India, America and Russia) combined. As the excesses piled up in China over the years, they weighed on global prices, depressing profits for all. However, unlike their international rivals, Chinese firms could carry on expanding, confident of state support.

(my emphasis). And until recently US (and other public) producers have been expected to compete with this state funded, supported overcapacity and dumping. Hard to believe it has  continued for so long. Health insurance companies don’t even have to compete across state lines!