You’ll have to forgive me for writing this a bit slowly today. As you would’ve heard in Friday’s video, my wisdom teeth came out on Thursday. And so I’m materially less intelligent and intelligible today. That’s why I’m handing Fortune & Freedom over to you, the readers.
In case you missed it, on Wednesday I asked whether the energy crisis is over already. And gave my own response: it has barely begun. On Friday we released a video asking our energy expert James Allen the same question.
And so now, here’s what readers had to make about our energy crisis debate…
As ever a very insightful article this morning that raises many questions – as you have been ever since the early days of the Green Energy Revolution.
I am optimistic that new tech will solve the issue of energy provision in the medium to long term. The problem right now as I see it, is that energy – be it green or otherwise – does not exist in a free market in which the end users can pick and choose what works for them.
Governments are involved and where governments are involved they tend to make a mess of it due to short term desire to get re-elected (although our current government don’t appear to have this desire!).
Oil and gas have long been subject to the OPEC Cartel and government control via taxation.
Hydrogen, once seen as the saviour of UK energy requirement, is now seen as a bit part player at best and the few listed hydrogen tech companies have fallen out of favour and are struggling with their capital requirements. The cost of building UK manufacturing facilities to enable them to scale up is hammering them.
Geothermal has many possibilities, but only tiny experiments in Cornwall are taking place at present.
Pumped hydro has existed for many years, is clean and works. But the cost of doing these projects at scale with reservoirs/dams etc is prohibitive and in this country at least would be met with years of public enquiries, protests etc.
Even Rolls Royce, who have SMR Nuclear Reactors designed and ready to build, are struggling with government’s indecision and putting up of barriers – which will no doubt result in the technology being deployed in the US at a faster and cheaper rate. The same will probably happen with Nuclear Fusion.
I really see the business world becoming sick of government control of energy and the future of energy provision becoming less centralised with more and more business manufacturing facilities (and domestic properties) seeking to become self-sufficient and off grid using a mix of solar/battery/hydrogen fuel cells on site as we have already seen with TESLA factories and “grand design” style domestic properties.
Some things are so important to our day to day lives that leaving them to the government quickly proves impossible. The Soviets and the Chinese Communists found this out the hard way about food. Well, the Ukrainians found it out for the Soviets. But that’s another story…
I think we are discovering that energy is included in the list. If we have governments as involved in energy as they have been since the climate scare started, well, the result we’ve had are precisely what you’d expect.
The solution? For those of you who know the name, Jim Rickards has built what he claims to be the largest off-grid solar farm in New England in his back garden…
On a related note, I have some personal experience dealing with large power utilities and optimising their grids. They move incredibly slowly. There is no real accountability, except for mistakes, so the incentive is to do nothing much at all.
This reader has realised that energy rationing has already begun, in a sense…
I have a few observations I would be interested in your thoughts on:
Last week we heard that National Grid is ‘warming up’ a couple of coal fired power stations due to the cold weather and potential power shortages.
So if I understand correctly throughout the ‘energy crisis’ to date, we have had coal power stations laying idle. With gas and electricity prices soaring both for individual households and for the government, piling on debt with unaffordable subsidies, we have had an alternative gas free means of bolstering supply.
Surely, we should have ensured that the marginal reserve capacity was gas fired plants left idle to increase the availability of gas for heating our homes?
Maybe I am misunderstanding something, but it looks like the government has deliberately sabotaged our economic wellbeing for green ideology even in a time of crisis, when they could easily have switched the reserve capacity for electricity generation and freed up substantial gas supply?
I watched your pod cast with Nigel Farage with interest. You discussed medical neglect and vaccine side effects as explanations for the continued incidence of global excess deaths. What about maybe latent effects of actual Covid infections?
With seemingly insurmountable issues over supply of natural resources, charging infrastructure, impossible increases in electricity demand, physical ability for many to charge at home, weight, battery recycling, etc.. etc.., is it not inevitable that the government will have to reverse their decision to phase out proper cars by 2030?
Surely we must be running out of the naïve self-righteous, and savvy tax avoiders with driveways? What happens politically when EV sceptics start to get forced into the nightmare? I know of one eco-bigot who is busy destroying our environment and ruining our economy with his third coal powered EV.
On that point, am I right in thinking that if the marginal electricity generation is coal, and the marginal usage is EVs (since there are efficient alternatives readily available), then the UK’s EV fleet is currently pretty much 100% coal powered?
Anyway, the point is, how to profit from the reversal, which is surely predictable, and must come reasonably well in advance of the 2030 deadline?
Deadlines die with governments. I’ve always wondered why people believe in the rule of law when the law can be changed arbitrarily. That’s not to mention some seriously stupid laws that have been made…
When I debate people about this, they get so annoyed that they drive above the speed limit all the way home…
But… let us address your question on how to profit. In early 2022, Nigel Farage and I joked that coal stocks were the best way to play the green energy bubble. And we were right.
I’ve been hoping to launch a newsletter dedicated to the question of how to profit from predictable government policy failures and unintended consequences. But it didn’t prove popular enough with readers. In the aftermath of 2022’s energy bills, I should try again…
That’s all for the energy debate. As ever, I can only publish responses with permission to do so.
But we also had two readers write in about an earlier article which exposed how governments are cracking down on retirement savings. I called it a bait-and-switch. Encourage money into retirement schemes with tax incentives, and then boil the frog with taxes.
Your articles are always a pleasure to read and maybe just maybe you should apply for chancellor, you would be a dammed sight better than J HUNT, and as for the next government, they will fail on all the promises for the simple reason, they have no CASH but they continue to spend.
Who finances all these idiotic think tanks, putting out an article that you need an income of 54k to sustain yourself in retirement, this just depresses people into NOT saving for their retirement.
It’s an impossible dream for most of the population.
Pension savings are helping to kill the NHS as a lot of doctors take early retirement as its more tax efficient because they cannot save anymore effectively for their retirement.
Hey but the politicians have their pensions all sorted.
Inflation at 10% just kicked a huge hole in ANY savings as 100k just become 90k.
Good intentions which spend other people’s money almost always fail.
Why do thinktanks always want to tax the rich (their definition) more. One guy pays billions a year and they want him to pay more: what is to stop him, leaving and going to Singapore? He would be lauded there, rather than constantly persecuted for making money and paying tax which the country desperately needs.
As a small business owner, we face a plethora of rising costs: with falling sales, you survive by cutting costs. We have been cutting costs and investment for years and are now maxed out.
So our low paid staff are now feeling more pain by getting reduced hours. I feel so sorry for them. Yes their pay rate is rising BUT with reduced hours and increased inflation they are living hand to mouth. They cannot save for retirement, if they cannot live today. There are NO better paying jobs in our area.
If people do save for their retirement, they should be helped. People use ISAs at times for savings for their retirement, or life changing events, which they cannot fund out of a pension.
How many people use CASH ISA’s which are a complete waste for ordinary people and enrich the banks and the establishment?
All people’s savings have already been taxed and when they come to spend it will be taxed again. The more you de-incentivise the population to fend for themselves: you breed dependency and then the more poverty you get.
Keep writing, more people should read it.
This reader disagrees with that take:
I really can’t let you get away with your comments about ISA capping today without comment. ISAs have been unlimited (other than the annual allowance) since inception. In 2014 I attended an investment conference and one speaker spoke on “How to Become an ISA Millionaire”. He boasted about how he had accumulated £8m in an ISA since its inception. And he knew of others that had done significantly better. Invested wisely that pot, with 20k pa addition could be double now. Is it really fair that those already well off should be able to tax shelter these sorts of sums?
A few weeks ago I visited Chester-le-Street, a small run down town in NE England. Nearly half of the shops, a hotel and a pub were boarded up. Litter had blown into every disused shop doorway. We stopped at a Community Cafe and food bank for a lunch. Customers were invited to pay what they could afford, and if they could afford nothing they could get a cup of tea and a sandwich free. It was run by volunteers in a disused shop with attached warehouse. In the warehouse volunteers packed donated vegetables and other items into boxes for the stream of people who came in because they could not afford to live. So, be honest, do you really think that it is right that those who can afford to save millions in an ISA should get returns tax free?
I support the principle of ISAs, and I agree the £100k cap is ridiculously low. But there should be a cap at some point, in my opinion.
Another point you don’t mention, but could have, is the inequity of capital gains tax. Imagine someone has bought a property for £400k to let. He may get a gross yield of 5%, say 4% after costs, with a great deal of hassle, and a disproportionate tax burden on that (because the government doesn’t like individuals letting property). And assume that both general inflation and specific house price inflation runs at 10%pa until he sells the house in 10 years. His real gain on the house is zero, but the nominal value of the house has gone up nearly two and half times. At 28% his capital gains bill would be almost £180k, not far off half the original value of the house.
This is not a “capital gains” tax; it is a “tax it because we can” tax! In the inflation of the 1970s, the government brought in index linking of gains so that only gains in excess of inflation were taxed. I have not heard anything of this idea being reinstated in this inflation: but we know, don’t we, that the current inflation will just be temporary! (That is sarcasm, by the way.)
Enough of the rant. I wish you a great day, Nick, and keep up the good work.
I didn’t know about index-linking of gains – thank you for mentioning it. I suspect the whole point of the inflation is to squeeze more tax from people in the way you mention. So, I doubt that they’ll reverse the policy’s effect.
The answer to whether it’s fair or not to accumulate that much in your ISA is simple. It depends if the money was earned fairly. Was it handed over willingly by people who wanted to buy something useful? Or was it taken from people in a misleading way, or even without their consent?
How much and what people do with their money thereafter does not determine whether it was fairly received. Of all the fair things to do with money, saving it is pretty high up…
But don’t worry about the £8m guy. The government will soon come along and take it away, in my opinion. It needs the money.
Editor, Fortune & Freedom