Saturday, November 2, 2013

Who's Watching Us?

Who is watching us this election? Edelman PR? SSA Marine? Goldman Sachs? Cloud Peak Energy? Quintana Minerals? BNSF? Warren Buffet? The Koch Brothers? The President? China? Somebody is because we are 36 hours into November and this blog has had over 1K page views for the month already. Face It Bellinghammers: This is the election of our lives. Who we elect this week will determine the economic future of Bellingham and Whatcom County. I look at the total coal income flow as simply as this:

X = Spot Price PRB Coal
Y = China Domestic Price for Coal
Z = million metric tonnes per year
CIF = Coal Income Flow

(Y - X) * Z = $CIF/year

Low, medium, high examples:

  • (130 - 10) * 48 = $5.7B per year
  • (95 - 13) * 52 = $4.3B per year
  • (80 - 15) * 56 = $3.6B per year
But these amounts don't indicate the multiplier effects and leverage of such strong income flows:
  • the shipping industry
  • the diesel industry
  • the mining industry
  • the equipment and machinery industry
  • income flows to local utilities and municipalities for energy and water use
  • the tax flows to local, state, federal government
  • the hedge funds and financial (commodities) industry
The income multipliers for these industries are probably between 2x - 20x.  God only knows how much such flows can be leveraged/derived for additional capital and hedge funds.  Then there are the financial relationships that will develop because of economic production. So of course, Whatcom County is about to determine US financial history. I don't ask that you vote for or against candidates you think are either for or against the coal terminal. I just ask that you vote for the candidates the most likely and qualified to deal us in to these income flows for a prosperous city and county.

I'm not voting for the Democrats  because I think they will stop the coal port. If you pay attention to the fine details, you realize the County Council is being asked to act as a type of permitting board. They will have some narrow criteria on which they can approve or disapprove the coal terminal. I think the odds are pretty even that big coal will come here even if we elect all Democrats. But I'm voting for the Democrats anyway, because I think the group of them have a higher average IQ and more anti-establishment chutzpah than the Republicans.  The Democrats will be more worried about making sure big coal deals us in, doesn't trample our waterfront, and is appropriately taxed. We are going to need some intelligence and chutzpah in dealing with big coal. The last thing we need is a bunch of tea party brain washed Republicans who think big coal equals jobs and Nirvana.  Big Coal doesn't equal Nirvana. It equals West Virginia or maybe Eastern Tennessee. If that's what you want, vote Republican. Or better yet, just move there and bring your big coal vote some place else.