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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) tumbled as much as 1,500 points yesterday and closed down an astonishing 1,175 points — a 4.6 percent loss. The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500), a broader stock market index and generally better metric for measuring stock market performance, was also down by more than 4 percent. In percentage terms, these drops aren’t new records, but they’re certainly significant.

Does this presage an economic recession? What exactly, if anything, does the stock market tell us about economic performance? To answer this question, chart-it compared the S&P 500’s annual returns to U.S. real GDP annual growth from 1930 to 2017. …


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Previously, chart-it observed that US coal consumption was in a multi-year decline but that US coal exports were up substantially. In this long overdue follow-up, we’ll review the state of US coal since 2014.

Let’s start by revisiting US coal consumption through September 2017 and exports through June 2017, the latest date for which information is available. Figure 1 below shows the change in US coal consumption and exports from 2001 on a trailing 12-month basis.

Figure 1. Change in US Coal Consumption and Exports Since 2001 (Trailing 12-Months, Million Short Tons)

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US coal consumption has continued to fall at a rapid pace. In 2014, annual US coal consumption had fallen by about 120 million short tons compared to 2001. By 2017, consumption had fallen by nearly 300 million short tons compared to 2001. The decline shows no sign of abating. In fact, despite Trump’s bluster about supporting the coal industry, US coal consumption during Obama’s last year in office was slightly higher than it’s been during Trump’s first year (since we only have data through September 2017, our analysis consider the 12-month period ending in September 2017). …


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Yamal LNG is a massive Russian natural gas production and liquefaction project in the Arctic Circle.

We recently heard the UN Ambassadors from France, Italy, and Japan express their outrage at the renewed use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. Oozing with indignation, the Ambassadors proclaimed to the live-streaming cameras that the blame for Assad’s barbarous actions lay squarely at Russia’s feet. They implored the Russian government to end its support for his regime: facilitation, they declared, is complicity.

What we did not hear was that these same three governments, just four months ago, engaged in their own facilitation of sorts. Long after Russia’s shameful actions in Ukraine and Syria and its meddling in US and European elections was well known, Italy, France, and Japan dodged the US sanctions regime by providing more than $1 billion of loans to Yamal LNG, a sanctioned megaproject that will generate billions of dollars for the Russian government. …

About

M.A.

Half American, half Lebanese, half Syrian.

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