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On December 1, 2017, TJ R. commented on Natural Gas: The bridge fuel to nowhere? :

This is a good look at what is perhaps the most complex ecological and political issues of our time: how do we wean the world off carbon fuels as fast as possible without starving developing economies of vital resources at affordable prices. At the same time, we have to face the reality that companies like Cheniere are indeed pushing an agenda of a “bridge” fuel that ultimately contributes to long-term dependence on carbon. That is to say, once a country’s economy is nursing at the bosom of cheap fossil fuels, it’s incredibly difficult to transition to sustainable energy sources–even for developed economies with massive investment capital reserves. To that end, there may be a significant impediment for Cheniere to ever walk away from the LNG trade as it stands. The author points out that many of the developing nations who rely on LNG are investing in renewables, but as the case of the developed world shows, the gulf between investment and widespread adoption is huge.

In the end, it’s likely that the challenges the author mentions will erode but not impede the revenue streams of Cheniere and its cohort. Rather, as the world’s population explodes over the next generation, it may be well be that we will look back on this time as the beachhead of a long-term dependence on LNG that we neither wanted nor intended.

Amanda’s analysis/recommendation that Ford not make long-lasting decisions with an eye toward the current administration cuts to the heart of a very serious question in the auto industry. Automakers, as Charlie Weinberg noted above, have a long history of being at odds with the government. This time, though, the tables have turned. Typically, the government is pushing for more safety features, better efficiency, and fleet-wide emissions reductions. Yet here we find an administration that cares about employment and on-shoring manufacturing more than about long term impacts on the environment or the industry landscape. For once, an automaker is facing pressure that seems more likely to relent in 4-8 years than to continue. The question for Ford now is whether they can weather the isolationist storm for the balance of this administration. As it looks now, Ford should take Amanda’s advice and stand their ground with a wise and prudent long-term view. It seems ever more likely that the administration may not last as long as a 3-year/36,000 mile lease with no money down for qualified lessees.

Easily one of the most unique and intriguing articles of the challenge on the economic reality of protectionism–especially in light of the growing populist sentiments here in the US. I find myself wondering how much of the ultimate risk and exchange rate issue can be eased by the potential for a “soft Brexit.” The obvious secondary question to that is whether Tesco and other retailers with global supply chains will pressure Theresa May’s government to minimize the effect of the forthcoming legislative move to formally depart from the EU. At the same time, the rise of Scottish nationalism and the threat of a second referendum[1] to leave the UK imposes even more risk on Tesco and its competitors, as they could suddenly find their stores subject to yet another set of new laws. Charlie has opened a true Pandora’s Box here when we consider the fact that Tesco’s operating strategy is essentially held hostage by political machinations, which may ultimately force them to become political players themselves.


Keely has hit on some wonderful aspects of the changing nature of the pharmaceutical industry in America–which is both the envy and the scourge of the world in many ways. The question going forward will be whether the model that we’ve come to know and accept can be fundamentally changed by digitization and the recommendations that Keely mentions–specifically predictive analytics and big data–or whether the result will be a more efficient version of the model we know now. At the same time, Keely’s work reveals just how precarious the industry is for nice producers. The loss of a patent and an expedited approval of a rival drug have put Teva on the ropes, to the point that they’re divesting assets to keep their firm solvent and to fund the pipeline. The ability to capture and use data as leverage for an improved operating strategy and operating could be the point of differentiation that breaks Teva out of the boom and bust cycle of pharma product development and moves them toward a sustainable future.

On December 1, 2017, TJ R. commented on Starbucks: the future isn’t brew-tiful :

Our secretive author, Coffeeislife, has investigated two fascinating facts about the world’s favorite coffee chain that are germane to the future of the company and those who love coffee. The first is the effect of Starbucks’ end-to-end coffee ecosystem. Starbucks is working very hard to reduce the effects of climate change on coffee, but has taken no steps to reduce their contribution to the greenhouse gas output of the coffee transport network. Additionally, the issue of the ancillary food items on the menu is probably the most overlooked aspect of the climate change problem from Starbucks’ perspective. Their customer promise requires that they offer such items, but as the author points out those items are massive contributors to carbon outputs across their production chain. Moreover, the author has done a fantastic job of tying the poor management habits of the past to future risk–specifically the lack of biodiversity across the coffee plant population. A truly well done article with excellent insights into the difficulties of being a coffee grower/sourcer who also operates a retail front-end.

On December 1, 2017, TJ R. commented on The Disruptor, Disrupted? Nasdaq Wrestles with Blockchain :

This article is fascinating for two reasons: it reveals an aspect of the blockchain that is virtually unknown to the layperson, and because it marries the intricacies of the blockchain to a transaction whose security is so fundamental to the savings of many people. I honestly had no idea that the blockchain’s permanent ledger could be put to such broad uses beyond crypto-currency, but Sasha’s effort here is the foundation of a fantastic thought exercise. Moreover, I think Sasha has hit upon the tip of a very large iceberg in terms of long-term security in a digital world. One of the biggest threats to the future of digital security will be the rise of quantum computing, and it’s possible that the global transparency offered by the blockchain could be the ultimate defense against computers that can so readily crack encrypted standards. As an investor, I’m quite taken with the idea of the blockchain’s promise to remove transaction middlemen from the process, and to ultimately reduce cost. Great article on a wild topic.