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From this month’s issue:
The United States has heroically tripled exports of energy over the past ten years, with more volumes coming as LNG terminals come online between 2016-2021. True, the bulk of these exports currently are in the form of petroleum products, which is a testament to US industrial capacity and infrastructure—not surplus oil. But that’s OK. To coal and petroleum product exports the US will soon add LNG and by 2020, this will tack on another 3.5 – 4.0 quadrillion BTU of exports. It is not inconceivable therefore, as US oil consumption will continue to stagnate and US coal exports will, contra forecasts, start to grow again, that by 2025 the US could be exporting 20 quads of energy per year. That would put the US Dollar in a position of extreme strength, and for those who are already looking to make a case for a secular USDollar strengthening trend, the structural shift in US energy exports adds credibility to that thesis. Indeed, although the US has emerged from the great recession with a much higher level of government debt, now approximately 18 trillion, this still is dwarfed by wartime debt to GDP levels from the country’s history. Indeed, with US GDP at roughly 17 trillion, the relationship is a benign 1 to 1 and this is reflected in the decided unconcern expressed towards the price of US Treasury debt, and again, US Dollar strength. It is a surprise to many that the US economy, while certainly riddled with inequality, has emerged strongest of all globally from the crisis. Energy production is playing a large role in that story.