Baum's Views on Money
Here are some articles and opinion pieces I'm reading that relate to the U.S. economy. Today's focus is on energy.
Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, is concerned about competition from -- drum roll, please -- U.S. shale oil! At least billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is. He sent an open letter to Saudi Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi urging the government to diversify. Al-Naimi respectfully agreed to disagree with His Excellency, but in a country where oil revenues account for 92 percent of the state budget, even a wealthy prince, with diversified investments, has reason to worry.
Getting to yes -- on the Keystone XL-Pipeline
Reading between the lines, some analysts see signs that President Barack Obama is looking for ways to approve the pipeline carrying oil from Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf of Mexico. For example, his comment in a recent New York Times interview suggested that Canada could do more to counteract greenhouse emissions. The president played down the job-creation aspect of the pipeline, but any observer of the transformative nature energy has had on North Dakota knows that's a crude assessment.
Not according to the State Department
The diplomats at Foggy Bottom supported the president's claim that the pipeline would generate 2,000 construction jobs and only 50 to 100 permanent positions. Republicans countered with State's own estimate in initial impact studies that Keystone would generate 42,100 direct and indirect jobs during a two-year building phase, 3,900 of which would be in construction. And those jobs, even if they are temporary, will generate others. What better example to support the president's stated plan to build the economy from the middle class out?
Renewable energy romance fades
At least in Europe, which is more dependent on wind and solar for electricity generation than the U.S., write David Garman and Samuel Thernstrom in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. Cost is one issue; it always is, unless someone else is subsidizing it. Another is reliability. "Nature determines when and how much power will be generated from available capacity, so it's not necessarily 'dispatchable' when needed," the authors write. Temporary power failures are a side effect. Conceptually, everyone loves wind and solar -- as long as it's not in my backyard and provides power on demand.
(Caroline Baum is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow her on Twitter.)