Sternberg on Risk to Financial Institutions from Climate Change

Opinion by Kip Hansen — 30 September 2022

Joseph C. Sternberg is a member of the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board and is the Political Economics columnist.  He begins a recent column in the WSJ with this statement:

He has not been fooled by the nonsense that has nearly unseated World Bank President David Malpass.   Climate Policies being enacted in the UK and across Europe are the “’climate risk’ to financial stability”.  That risk “has arrived, although in exactly the opposite manner to what our current crop of eco-financiers predicted.”

“The U.K. may be facing a wave of business bankruptcies exceeding anything witnessed during the post-2008 panic and recession. Some 100,000 firms could be forced into insolvency in coming months, bankruptcy consultancy Red Flag Alert warned this week. These are otherwise healthy firms with at least £1 million in annual revenue. Business failures on this scale would dwarf the roughly 65,000 firms of any size that went under from 2008-10.

The culprit is energy prices, which the consultancy believes could account directly for around one-quarter of the possible insolvencies. These prices are rising for British businesses in intervals of several hundred percent at a time and sometimes with steep deposit requirements from utilities that fear precisely a wave of bankruptcies.”

Sternberg says that “matters are probably worse in Germany, the eurozone’s largest economy” where up to 73% of small and medium-sized enterprises report that they are feeling “heavy pressure from energy prices”.  Some estimate that up to 10% may be facing “existential threats” – not from Climate Change mind you, but from Climate Change Policy.

Sternberg ends his piece with this:

“Politicians are happy to blame Vladimir Putin and his Ukraine invasion for the current energy disaster. But what transformed that one-off shift in the relative price for energy into a global disaster was two decades of green-energy policy beforehand. In Europe, that includes a fixation on renewables incapable of powering industrial economies absent battery technologies that don’t exist, a refusal to tap domestic fossil-fuel reserves such as shale gas, and a deep and irrational hostility to nuclear power in many parts of the Continent. This has created an energy system of dangerous rigidity and inefficiency incapable of adapting to a blow such as Russia’s partial exit from the European gas market. It’s almost inevitable that the imminent result will be a recession in Europe. We can only hope that it won’t also trigger a global financial crisis.”

Of course, as we have seen already in California, the U.S. may headed down the same road to energy and financial disaster.

You can read Joseph Sternberg’s full column here.

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Author’s Comment:

Regardless of your personal opinions and views about climate change/global warming, there can be very little doubt that the policies being implemented and urged by governments at many levels have been destructive – higher electricity prices, higher gasoline prices, higher transportation prices that have driven up cost of food and other commodities, damaging economies.

At the worst end of the spectrum, whole states and regions are facing rolling electrical blackouts and brownouts.  Other areas have asked customers to cut electrical use during certain high-demand times.

The wisdom of the ages remains true:  You reap what you sow.

Thanks for reading.

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