Gautam Adani biggest gainer amid pandemic as new supercycle makes energy billionaires richer globally

Agencies
April 3, 2021

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Back in October, Harold Hamm predicted a win by Joe Biden in the US election would “strange and starve oil and gas.” Instead, he’s made a killing.

With shares of his Continental Resources Inc. more than doubling in the past six months, Hamm’s personal fortune has jumped this year by $3.3 billion to $8.4 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Sure, Biden won in November and is now promoting policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But crude prices have surged in recent months amid supply cuts and increased demand for natural gas to renewables as economies emerge from the Covid-19 crisis. Hamm, 75, who supported Donald Trump in the election, is one of the biggest gainers among energy billionaires.

Energy tycoons from the US to Russia and India have also boosted their fortunes. Their combined net worth climbed about $51 billion in the first quarter — or roughly 10 per cent — the fastest rate of any group in the Bloomberg index.

Positive Outlook

Leonid Mikhelson, 65, co-owner of the largest non-state-owned natural-gas provider in Russia, has added $3.8 billion in 2021, threatening to take over the top spot among the nation’s richest. India’s Gautam Adani has gained $23.3 billion this year — the most of anyone in the world.

The outlook for energy companies like Continental Resources -- which struggled last year -- has turned more positive, with Hamm’s shale-oil producer even expected to return to profitability.

At their meeting this week, OPEC+ members expressed confidence about the economic recovery and agreed to gradually increase oil production in the coming months. In February, JPMorgan Chase & Co. talked about a new supercycle for commodities, echoing similar comments from banks including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Oil has climbed 66 per cent in the past six months, and some bulls predict prices could once again top $100 a barrel by the end of next year.

“Higher oil prices translate directly into higher profits and increase these companies’ returns to their shareholders,” said Ryan Dusek, director at Opportune, a commodity risk-advisory group in Houston.

Still, the increasing focus on eco-friendly measures is threatening oil producers in the longer term. Biden wants to make the US electricity grid carbon-free by 2035, while China and the European Union aim to be carbon neutral by 2060 and 2050, respectively.

Green Ambitions

That’s why some companies have been boosting their green ambitions. Adani, who spent two decades building an empire centered around coal, has plans to increase his firm’s renewable-energy capacity almost eightfold by 2025 and has gotten backing from big players including French oil giant Total SE. Mikhelson’s Novatek PJSC, whose Yamal LNG plant in Russia’s Arctic has been operating above capacity, wants to clean up its output even as it more than triples production by the end of the decade.

Even with the recent energy gains, technology remains the main creator of wealth globally, with the wealthiest entrepreneurs in that industry adding $87.6 billion so far this year. Larry Page and Sergey Brin, co-founders of Google parent Alphabet Inc., and Su Hua of Chinese video service Kuaishou Technology are among the top gainers after Adani.

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News Network
April 29,2021

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Washington, Apr 29: Addressing lawmakers Wednesday in an eerily unfilled US Capitol, President Joe Biden delivered his first speech to Congress under extraordinary circumstances that highlighted the coronavirus pandemic and January's deadly riot that shook the citadel of democracy.

Barely 200 mask-wearing lawmakers spread out in the House of Representatives chamber — the very body where many were acting to certify Biden's election victory on January 6 when marauders sent members scrambling for their lives.

"As we gather here tonight, the images of a violent mob assaulting this Capitol — desecrating our democracy — remain vivid in our minds," he told the hushed chamber in a primetime speech to mark his first 100 days in office.

But he turned the reaction to the harrowing attack, and America's response to the coronavirus, as cause for optimism.

"We have stared into an abyss of insurrection and autocracy — of pandemic and pain — and 'We the People' did not flinch," he said.

Evidence of the unrest remains on Capitol Hill. The metal fencing around Congress still stands, and heavily armed National Guard troops ringed the building Wednesday as a precaution.

The building's hallways were nearly empty, the tours that normally bring tourists and other guests to the Rotunda halted.

Covid restrictions made Biden's maiden speech to Congress one like no other. Most of the US Supreme Court's nine members usually attend such addresses, but this time Chief Justice John Roberts alone represented the bench.

Of the entire Biden cabinet, only Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin were present.

The joint session was historic on multiple fronts: the unprecedented number of empty seats in the chamber, indicative of the nation's ongoing 14-month battle against the Covid-19 pandemic that requires social distancing and mask-wearing at public gatherings.

And with Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi seated at the dais, two women flanked a US president during his speech to Congress for the first time ever.

"Madam Speaker. Madam Vice President," Biden began warmly as he noted their historic turn. "And it's about time."

The chamber burst into applause, with First Lady Jill Biden and Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff joining in the ovation.

But the two spouses were largely alone in their box in the gallery. Normally filled with lawmakers' guests, the upper seats were virtually empty, as guests were relegated to watching from home.

Biden, making his case for a dramatic expansion of government social safety net programs like child care and free community college, directly appealed to Republicans in the hopes of winning at least the barest of support necessary to advance his progressive agenda.

He fist-bumped congresswoman Liz Cheney, a member of Republican leadership who has angered many in her caucus for openly denouncing former president Donald Trump, and huddled after his speech with Republican Senator Rob Portman.

Biden used a strikingly personal tone, at times whispering as he did, when he urged corporate America and the nation's wealthiest to "pay their fair share" of taxes.

The line drew blank stares from most Republicans, and loud applause from Democrats.

Biden is perhaps the American most familiar with these speeches and how they are used to win over the public and earn congressional support.

Elected to the Senate in 1972, Biden attended Richard Nixon's final State of the Union address, and sat at the dais as vice president for multiple congressional addresses by Barack Obama.

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coastaldigest.com news network
May 5,2021

Bengaluru, May 5: Karnataka reported over 50,000 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday (May 5, 2021) with nearly half of them from capital city of Bengaluru. The state has for the first time recorded a high number of COVID-19 cases registering 50,122 new cases of infections while as many as 346 people succumbed to the infection.

Karnataka, now has 4.8 lakh active cases and its death toll is 16,884. The state has reported 17,4 lakh infections so far.

The state has reported an alarming rise in infections over the past few weeks, fast becoming one of the worst-hit states in India.

Meanwhile, Bengaluru reported nearly per cent of the total cases with 23,106 infections, the highest-ever daily coronavirus counts. The city also saw 161 coronavirus-related deaths.

Notably, the state has so far administered more than one crore COVID-19 vaccines.

"Karnataka crossed 1 crore inoculations of Covid-19 vaccine today. Karnataka has received 1,05,49,970 doses from Centre and State Govt has procured 3 lakh doses," Health Minister K Sudhakar said.

The coastal districts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi have reported a total of 3184 new covid cases. With 1529 new cases Dakshina Kannada’s tally has mounted to 50345. Among them 9331 are active. With 1655 new cases, Udupi’s tally has mounted to 35365 including 3926 active cases. 

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Agencies
May 6,2021

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United Nations, May 6: At least 155 million people faced acute hunger in 2020, including 133,000 who needed urgent food to prevent widespread death from starvation -- and the outlook for 2021 is equally grim or worse, a report by 16 organizations said Wednesday.

The report, which focuses on 55 countries that account for 97% of humanitarian assistance, said the magnitude and severity of food crises last year worsened as a result of protracted conflicts, the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic, and weather extremes that exacerbated “pre-existing fragilities.”

The 155 million people faced “crisis," “emergency" or “catastrophe/famine" levels of food needs, an increase of around 20 million people from 2019, it said.

According to the report, two-thirds of the people in those crisis levels were in 10 countries -- Congo, Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria, Sudan, northern Nigeria, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Zimbabwe and Haiti. The 133,000 facing starvation, death and destitution were in Burkina Faso, South Sudan and Yemen.

“The number of people facing acute food insecurity and requiring urgent food, nutrition and livelihoods assistance is on the rise,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wrote in the forward to the 307-page Global Report on Food Crises.

“There is no place for famine and starvation in the 21st century,” he said. “We need to tackle hunger and conflict together to solve either.”

Arif Husain, the World Food Program's chief economist, said at a UN news conference for the release of the fifth annual report that the biggest driver of food crises is conflict, which accounted for 99 million people in 23 countries facing a food crisis last year.

“Unless we start finding political solutions to conflicts,” the number of people needing humanitarian assistance will keep increasing, he said.

According to the report, 40.5 million people in 17 countries faced acute food insecurity last year because of “economic shocks” including the fallout from the pandemic.

First and foremost, Husain pointed to declining incomes as a result of the 255 million jobs lost in the pandemic — “four times more than the financial crisis” in 2008. He also expressed concern that the amount of debt taken on by countries large and small to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus “has exploded.”

Dominique Burgeon, director of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's office in Geneva, said 60% to 80% of the 155 million people facing acute food insecurity depend on agriculture, but last year FAO was able to assist only about 30%.

The report presented some other grim statistics from 2020: 75.2 million children under 5 years old living in the 55 countries were “stunted” in their growth and 15.8 million were “wasted,” or underweight for their height.

In terms of the prevalence of people facing a crisis, emergency or famine levels of food needs, the report said Central African Republic, South Sudan and Syria had more than half their analyzed populations at the crisis level or worse, and five countries -- Afghanistan, Haiti, Lesotho, Yemen and Zimbabwe -- had between 40% and 45% of their populations at those levels.

Looking to 2021, the report said, “food crises are becoming increasingly protracted and the ability to recover from new adverse events is becoming more difficult.”

“Conflict, the Covid-19 pandemic, and large-scale economic crises are expected to extend food-crisis situations in 2021, necessitating continuing large-scale humanitarian assistance,” it said.

The report made forecasts based on 40 of the 55 countries, saying those for the other 15 countries weren't available.

It said over 142 million people in those 40 countries are forecast to face food crises, emergencies or catastrophes this year. Around 155,000 people are likely to face “catastrophe/famine" through mid-2021 — around 108,000 in South Sudan and 47,000 in Yemen, the report said.

WFP's Husain said, for example, that providing one single meal per day for a year for 34 million people would cost about $5 billion, saying that the most critical needs are funding and humanitarian access.

“Without that, we won't be able to save lives,” he said.

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