The truth about fracking & how it’s changing the world by Adam TaggartFriday, March 1, 2019, 3:37 PM
For years now we’ve been covering the false promise of the American shale oil “miracle”.
Yes, it has extracted a lot more oil out of American soil that most thought possible. But at an economic loss. And at great environmental cost.
If the shale drilling companies can’t make any profit, either when oil prices are high or low — why are we still pursuing shale deposits so aggressively?
To shed further light on this paradox, this week we welcome journalist Bethany McLean to the program. McLean is editor-at-large at Fortune Magazine and a contributing editor for Vanity Fair and Slate magazines. She is also author of the excellent book: Saudi America: The Truth About Fracking And How It’s Changing The World.
McLean warns that the hype, the hucksterism, and the geological shortcomings of the deposits themselves, are setting up both investors and American society for tremendous disappointment:
The real catalyst of the shale revolution was the Great Financial Crisis and the era of unprecedentedly-low interest rates that followed.
And that had two effects. One was that it made debt cheap. So these companies that are heavily dependent on being able to raise capital could raise debt at low prices. And without that, I’m not sure there would’ve been a shale revolution because they needed such immense amounts of capital to fund their drilling.
But it had a second impact, which is that when pension funds were no longer able to earn a return in traditional fixed income markets, they’ve increasingly put their money into riskier assets like hedge funds that invest in credit and private equity firms. Those entities, in turn, have increasingly invested in shale.
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