What is the scale of the energy challenge?
We got a very shocking sense of the staggering numbers involved in the existential, crippling European crisis earlier today when Norwegian energy giant Equinor echoed what Zoltan Pozsar said in March, warning that “European energy trading risks grinding to a halt unless governments extend liquidity to cover margin calls of at least $1.5 trillion.” As Bloomberg put it, in its best non-Zoltan imitation, “aside from inflating bills and fanning inflation, the biggest energy crisis in decades is sucking up capital to guarantee trades amid wild price swings. That’s putting pressure on European Union officials to intervene to prevent energy markets from stalling.”
“Liquidity support is going to be needed,” Helge Haugane, Equinor’s senior vice president for gas and power, said in an interview. The issue is focused on derivatives trading, while the physical market is functioning, he said, adding that the company’s estimate for $1.5 trillion to prop up so-called paper trading is “conservative.””
In other words, massive amounts of newly-printed funding (because with yields blowing up, Europe’s fiscal stimulus will be over before it started unless central banks step in and backstop the latest energy hyperinflation bailout plans) will be required to avert an energy disaster. Alas, the final number will be even more massive, because overnight Goldman’s research team published a must read note (available to pro subs), in which the bank looked at the scale of the energy bill challenge, potential European government responses and industry implications, and quantified the total damage. The numbers are staggering:
“For most families and industrial customers, energy bills are renegotiated every twelve months; on our estimates, energy bills for most consumers will peak this winter. We estimate a c.€500/month cost for power and gas currently, implying a c.200% increase vs. 2021 when average bills were c.€160/month. Energy bills could approach €600/month in a zero flows (from Russia) scenario we believe (see here for more on this zero flows scenario). ”
According to Goldman, Italian household energy bills could rise from ~€150 to ~€600 in 2023
“And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine.”