Dead of Winter
“There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.” – Henry Kissinger
In the United Kingdom, a grassroots protest movement has broken out in response to the ongoing energy crisis. With the bill from its failed national policies coming due, ordinary citizens are organizing campaigns to ensure they are not the ones left holding the bag. The mission of Don’t Pay UK is to gather at least one million commitments from Her Majesty’s loyal subjects to simply stop paying their energy bills as of October 1, 2022. At the time of this writing, Don’t Pay UK has passed 130,000 signatures. We expect that number to grow.
In reading a recent profile of the movement by Euronews Green, we were struck by the framing of the crisis by some of the movement’s organizers. This quote from the piece and the photo we have reproduced below caught our attention (emphasis added throughout):
“Lewis Ford, an organiser from Hull, agrees the movement is ‘a lot about solidarity’, especially for those forced to choose between heating their home and feeding their family.
‘We’re already talking about the idea of setting up warm banks, which is an absolutely preposterous idea,’ the 31-year-old IT consultant tells Euronews Green. ‘We're one of the richest nations. So, it’s not like there’s no money, it’s the fact that the money is being kept in one space.’”
Sadly for Mr. Ford and the well-intended but totally naïve young woman holding out hope that the unicorn concept of “cheaper cleaner greener” energy is actually a thing, they are both victims of insidious propaganda. As reality will soon demonstrate, if a country can’t afford to keep its citizens warm during the winter, then that country is poor, not rich. And if the proposed solution to this crisis is to double down on the same crazy policies that caused it in the first place, then we should expect the problem to get worse, not better.
As longtime readers of Doomberg will know, we’ve been fascinated by the European energy situation for the better part of the past year, long before the true potential for a crisis was considered acceptable mainstream thought. In re-reading a piece we wrote last October called “Putin’s Fools Rush In,” we correctly predicted who held the real power in the developing conflict. We also badly overestimated the willingness of Western political leaders to recognize reality. Here are two quotes revealing the miscalculation:
“The prize Putin will soon collect is the inevitable go-ahead by Germany to begin operating the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, an act that will decisively and irreversibly conclude a years-long struggle between the United States and Russia in Putin’s favor.”
“Energy is life. Those projects will get developed. The geopolitical power vacuum we are creating will get filled. We might not be serious, but our enemies are ruthlessly so. They raise a toast to our self-inflicted demise.”
In hindsight, our expectation that Western leaders would awaken to the laws of physics was terribly mistaken. Instead, they have behaved as though they have leverage over Putin, not the other way around. Despite already skyrocketing energy prices, Nord Stream 2 was canceled, adding further strain to the EU’s depleting energy options. Emboldened by the cards handed to him by his geopolitical opponents, Putin invaded Ukraine. The West’s response – attempting to sanction Putin’s energy from global markets – was quite literally the dumbest option available, akin to sawing off your own hand in the middle of a boxing match.
In the past week, the market for European electricity broke, begging the question of exactly who is being sanctioned by whom. Forward-year prices for baseload power in Germany skyrocketed to over €1,000 per MWh before crashing by more than a third a day later. The same contract was selling for €45 per MWh less than two years ago. The imminent crisis is now undeniably laid bare for all to see. How will Europe navigate the upcoming winter? Will logic, sanity, and genuine leadership take hold, or will the same fools who rushed into this mess double down on their foolishness?
Having learned from our mistakes, we now propose Doomberg’s Law of Antilogic™, under which the current slate of Western leaders can be counted on to select the worst possible path forward at every critical junction. Applying this law to the current set of options and recent news flow makes for some sobering analysis. Let’s dig in.
All Doomberg readers are invited to join us this Friday, September 2nd at 3pm ET for The European Energy Crisis: What Comes Next?, a Twitter Spaces discussion between Luke Gromen, Marko Popic, and yours truly, moderated by the inimitable Grant Williams. Click the link above to find out how to listen!