Trump and Dodd-Frank – What You Don’t Know

In 2009, I began working for several financial sites –  mostly keeping up with their blogs and some white papers. It wasn’t too long before the 2009 CARD Act was signed into law and within a year after that, so was Dodd-Frank Act.  I had to immerse myself in a crash course as to what these laws meant for consumers. Both were straight out of the Obama Administration.

It wouldn’t take long to realize the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was founded under Dodd-Frank, was a different regulatory agency. Under the guidance of Director Richard Cordray, many Americans saw there were government agencies that really had no ulterior motives. Let me say this: most of those who drive the financial sector machine in this country are reliable, honest and truly work to do good each day. It’s the ones who don’t, the ones who can’t see past the dollar signs, who cause so many problems.

This week, less than a month into his term, President Trump has effectively unraveled every protection Americans had against everythingcapture-20170215-182226 from “too big to fail” banks (JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo and Bank of America), predatory college loans, insane interest rates on mortgages, and much more. By repealing Dodd-Frank, he’s also eliminating all of those financial protections the average American relies on. By the way, it’s important to note, this was the solution to ensure we would never see another mortgage meltdown that we saw in 2008 with the record number of foreclosures for millions of American families.

Here’s what you might not know:

February 5, when asked by a reporter what his intentions were, President Trump said “We expect to be cutting a lot out of Dodd-Frank.”  He said this during a White House meeting with big business leaders and bank presidents, including JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon. That’s a problem.

It’s interesting that the president would say something like this during a meeting with Dimon and his counterparts, mostly because of the headache CFPB has been for many of these CEOs – and most certainly JPMorgan’s leader. Here are just a few of the clashes JPMorgan Chase has had with CFPB.

CFPB Orders Chase and JPMorgan Chase to Pay $309 Million Refund for Illegal Credit Card Practices

SEP 19, 2013

CFPB Takes Action Against Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase for Illegal Mortgage Kickbacks

JAN 22, 2015

CFPB, 47 States and D.C. Take Action Against JPMorgan Chase for Selling Bad Credit Card Debt and Robo-Signing Court Documents

JUL 08, 2015

CFPB isn’t reserved just for the banks. It has also focused on predatory lending on everything from payday loans to mortgages to aggressive collection actions:

CFPB Takes Action Against Two Law Firms for Misrepresenting Attorney Involvement to Collect on Medical Debts This one ordered medical debt collection law firms to refund $577,135 to consumers.

JAN 09, 2017

CFPB Takes Action Against NewDay Financial for Deceptive Mortgage Advertising and Kickbacks

FEB 10, 2015

CFPB Takes Action Against ACE Cash Express for Pushing Payday Borrowers Into Cycle of Debt

JUL 10, 2014

This agency has sought to protect consumers on all things financial, including student loans and the aggressive manner in which collection agencies collect debts. Imagine your parents filing for social security and being told they couldn’t until YOUR student loans from thirty years ago were paid back. That’s what this agency does – takes these kinds of disturbing companies down. Well,  maybe not so much now.

The reality is Trump had an opportunity to fix what wasn’t working with Dodd-Frank. In all honestly, the accounting and different regulations are confusing. I’m sure there are analysts who can dissect the law far better than I could begin to understand. I’ll leave that to them. In terms of the every day family with typical challenges and not knowing who to trust in the financial sector, this is a real disappointment – even if no one realizes it right away. Mark my words – you’ll soon see the next time you apply for a college loan or a mortgage and feel like a loan officer is playing fast and loose on your unfamiliarity of contracts or if an unethical debt collector begins seeking you out on social media.

Trump’s Texas Tests

In a year that included an election where everyone lost money in the office pool (and Clinton lost far more); a protest that actually accomplished something; and a scandal that rocked not only the DNC, but the collective American political system, there was bound to be some residual damage. Some are happy with the results of the election while others are still threatening to use their passports to escape an evil president-elect who makes them cry. Truth is, there are more than a few red flags on the horizon reminding us that just because it happened in 2016 doesn’t mean it won’t follow us into 2017. You can be sure Trump will be put to the test.

Up first, big oil – also known as the black snake in Sioux territory; fossil fuels in the Rockefeller circles in New York and paychecks in many homes across the country.

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The Drama

This time last year, those who held a stake in the Energy Transfer family watched closely as several events unfolded. At the end of September, the company’s owner, Kelcy Warren, announced a merger between Energy Transfer Equity and Williams Companies ($WMB) that would be worth more than $37 billion. There were many questions, including a few about Warren’s ethics – from both personal and business perspectives. Initially, his efforts in acquiring Williams were unwelcomed. The first offer made to Williams was for more than $53 billion. Two months later, it was worth around $37 billion. Williams accepted the offer, recognizing any kind of recovery in the sector would be slow; it opted to cut its losses.

As 2016 kicked off, there were cracks in Warren’s golden egg. There was little doubt the deal was going south and eventually, a judge allowed Warren to rescind the offer based on some tax loophole. Even as this was unfolding, Warren was taking steps to cover his assets. In a SEC filing, he disclosed the “completion of issuance of convertible units” which would allow a few investors to “receive the Preferred Distribution Amount”. It was legal, even if it was underhanded. By the time this bad deal was put to rest, Energy Transfer’s CFO Jamie Welch had left the company and filed his own lawsuits against his former employer.

#NoDAPL

This summer, setbacks continued. This time, it was the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. Standing Rock Sioux Tribe says the pipeline is too close to its primary sources of drinking water. The Tribe is ~10,000 strong and located mostly in the Dakotas. What’s awe-inspiring is the way they’ve carried out the months-long protests. They’ve drawn thousands of supporters and have a GoFundMe campaign that’s collected more than one million dollars, making it one of the most successful in GoFundMe’s history.

The protesters have been peaceful. Law enforcement, on the other hand, used high-pressured water cannons and “concussion grenades”, against protesters. These crowd control efforts led to many injuries, many serious enough to require medical attention. There’s been at least one injury to the arm of a protester who still may lose it and another protester may lose her eyesight. Dogs from different law enforcement agencies have also attacked protesters.

The Army Corp of Engineers issued a ruling earlier this month that effectively halted the progress of the pipeline. It should be noted the pipeline is nearly complete – less than 1 mile remains unfinished. It’s costing millions every month the protests continue and the project remains unfinished.

Warren has become the villain of the natural gas and oil industry. When the ruling came down earlier this month, he immediately declared it“politically motivated” and that drilling would continue with no reroute to bypass the area that’s being contested. The company lost another battle this past week when a judge refused to allow the drilling to continue and instead said the court would hear arguments at the end of January.

Here’s where it gets interesting. If the pipeline’s not finished by January 1, 2017, the companies involved can opt to renegotiate the contract or they can simply walk away. That’s the likely scenario. The initial contract was signed when oil was closer to $100 a barrel versus the $45 per barrel it is today. There was a justifiable use for the new pipeline three years ago, but these days, the oil fields aren’t at capacity, again, courtesy of the collapse in the energy sector. Whether anyone wants to admit it, there’s really no reason for adding to the intricate freeway of underground gas and oil pipes that crisscross through this continent. Major investments are being made in cleaner energy sources and that is not going to change.

From The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis report:

Because the economic prospects for Bakken oil producers have dimmed dramatically since early 2014, oil shippers…may attempt to renegotiate terms when ETP misses its Jan. 1 deadline, seeking concessions on contracted volumes, prices, or contract duration. Moreover, if oil prices remain low, as projected, Bakken oil production will continue to decline, and existing pipeline and refinery capacity in the Bakken will be more than adequate to handle the region’s oil production. If production continues to fall, DAPL could well become a stranded asset—one that was rushed to completion largely to protect favorable contract terms negotiated in 2014.

Texas Taxes

As if all of that weren’t enough, Energy Transfer is now in the crosshairs of the tax man. Texas, like every other state, offers incentives for companies. One controversial program has been manipulated in such a way that allowed Warren’s companies to claim more than $250 million in tax breaks. In a five-year period between 2011 and current day, there have been at least 15 deals uncovered that link to the Texas Economic Development Act, which is touted as the state’s largest corporate welfare program. This story broke a few days ago and has the potential to snowball.

The Trouble with Trump

So how does the new president fit into all of this? Trump has consistently come out on the side of ETP. He’s vowed to undo the Army’s project halt as well as anything Obama tries to do in his final days in office. By the time Trump takes office in late January, it may be too late since the contracts expire January 1. Trump received campaign donations and up until a few weeks ago, he had investments the ETE family.

Two things happened as I was writing this and there are bound to be huge uproars:

Trump is expected to announce he’s chosen Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon, as Secretary of State this morning. The question is: will Exxon be allowed to run with the $500 billion deal with Russia it worked out before the sanctions hit? He’s not the only Texan who will be named part of the Trump team later today. There’s a lot of debate when it comes to Putin’s own motives, but we need Russia as an ally. We must find a way to rebuild those important, though fragile relationships with the countries Obama spent 8 years tearing down.

Trump is also expected to formally announce he’s tapped his one-time political foe and former Texas Governor Rick Perry to oversee the Energy Department. Perry was given a lucrative position on the Energy Transfer Partners board in February 2015. The Houston Chronicle offered, “Life outside the governor’s mansion has proven profitable for Rick Perry”. You may recall this was around the time Perry was facing felony charges in Texas, but that didn’t serve as any kind of speed bump for Warren. When Perry announced he was running for president a few months later, it was Warren who greased the financial wheels. And now, Perry will likely be named as the head of the Energy Department in the Trump Administration.

The Clinton Crisis: Contradictions and Confusion

capture-20161030-154317Never let it be said the 2016 election cycle was anemic, weak, boring or uneventful. We’re down to 9 days and I’ve said no fewer than 5 times a day how glad I’ll be when this election is put to rest in the history books that are bound memorialize anything but the truth.

Each new story raises the insanity monitor a notch or two. Take a look at a few of these tweets. Are we seeing the same irony?

In July, the FBI announced it would not seek charges against Secretary Clinton. A few days later, Clinton said in an interview with Fox News, “Comey said my answers were truthful, and what I’ve said is consistent with what I have told the American people.” Ah, he was a good buddy of hers, no doubt. I’m sure it was a delightful and whimsical friendship.

Now, though, Clinton is on the defense in the worst kind of way. Here are a few of the many tweets sent after the announcement was made late Friday afternoon regarding the lost emails and server and how it involves her bestie, Huma Abedin and her husband, Anthony Weiner. Pre-emptive scramble to save her cookies, yes?

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How’s that for loyalty, Director Comey? Did he really think that woman has an ounce of loyalty, a dish of ethics or an ability to even remotely empathize with others?

And then there’s this. Always the hopeful one, Clinton is. What if this week brings daily WikiLeaks drops of HER emails? That could distract her, right?

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The best way John Podesta can be of service to Clinton at this point is by giving her pointers on how to handle the world reading her emails over a Yoo Hoo and a Little Debbie cake. Remember, WikiLeaks hasn’t released a cache of Clinton emails. Yet. A girl can hope, though. Unlike all the other men in her life: her husband, Comey, Kaine and God knows who else…Podesta just hasn’t felt the Queen Clinton sting. I hear it’s pretty horrendous. Still, is this the best use of his time:

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Finally, take a look at this little gem. She is going to do to us what she can’t force Trump to do: make us pay for the college education of anyone who wants to attend. Sound familiar? Does the word “Obamacare” come to mind?

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When it falls apart, as it will if she is elected, maybe she can take a cue from the last time a “sure thing” was passed into law. Maybe Obama can give her a few pointers? Turns out it’s a colossal failure, but what does Obama care? He’s phoning it in at this point.

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The Bad News is that One of Them Becomes President

capture-20161014-175943The good news is we’re now down to days before we can finally come out of this disturbing and disgusting and surreal state of reality we’ve all been forced to endure in various stages for the past year. The bad news is we have days left before we can finally come out of this surreal state of reality. Typically, election season gives Americans an opportunity to explore their options. Who supports the issues that matter to a family? Which candidate will keep us out of war? Which candidate is going to be remembered for the good he or she did for Americans and humanity in general? Each national election brings with it a certain degree of embarrassing revelations, silly bickering and promises that if one candidate is elected over another, the country’s going to hell. That’s not the case with the current season – not by a long shot.

Imagine the worst kind of criminal; one who is the epitome of pure evil with his dark and brutal ways. Imagine the trial and the truly tragic details of his victims’ final moments that emerge each day. You know these details because the trial in its entirety is being broadcast live. Now think about the divide the trial causes between supporters and those who hate the accused. Can you imagine it being any worse than what we’re witnessing in this election? Yeah…me either.

These candidates have made history, no doubt. They’ve divided a nation. They have created the same weaknesses and fears that are usually reserved for a category 5 hurricane headed straight for our hometown.

When you take a step back, and I’m sure many will begin to see this once the election is behind us, there are common denominators in that trial, the hurricane and the election. Pride and money and notoriety and a place in history are those ribbons woven through each. The politicians warning of the hurricane walk a fine line in how they tell people to evacuate (or not), where the storm makes landfall and when to declare states of emergency for the “imminent landfall”. If that hurricane doesn’t make landfall, there goes the credibility.  If the jury finds the defendant not guilty, there goes the perfect conviction record the DA loves to brag about on a daily basis. It all comes down to being right and winning and no shortage of taunts directed to the loser. Losing, to them, is like a death.

These candidates have spewed so much hate in an effort to win that they don’t realize they’ve burned beyond recognition the entire election process and everything our founding fathers intended. Each time a “game changer” breaks into our daily routine, via breaking news emails, Twitter trends and “exclusive interviews with the victim tonight”, we’re forced to factor it into our decision-making process. If we believe everything each side swears is true, we can decide between a rapist and a rapist’s wife. We can choose a murderer if we’d like or maybe a serial sexual harasser. We can choose the candidate whose daughter bought her education or we can opt for the candidate whose children are “destined to turn out like their predatory father”.

There’s no shortage of information from which to make that decision, either. We can believe an Australian computer programmer and journalist who’s hiding out in an embassy to avoid facing his own sexual assault charges. We can also take our pick of an ever-increasing number of women who say they were victims of sexual harassment by their former boss, who’s now wanting your vote. And let’s not forget the women who have, for years (unlike the other candidate’s accusers), insisted a former president and husband to the current candidate raped, molested or otherwise assaulted them. We can believe a “kill list” or we can believe a group of people whose egos convinced them to try out for a reality show years ago because they wanted to be in the spotlight. We have countless audio tapes and no shortage of teary-eyed victims who turn it on as soon as they cameras whir to life.

So successful are their efforts that they have managed to annihilate bonds that were previously stronger than any super-duper new must-have product being shown on Shark Tank. Families are divided. Best friends are now at one another’s throats and are being closely monitored by terrorists everywhere for tips on how to wreak the most damage to the human psyche. Facebook and Twitter are the new battlegrounds and that amazing actor many were convinced should star in every TV show, major film and documentary has now become dirt under a fan’s feet because of his “insults to the fans”.

How in God’s name did we get to the point that no recognizable shred of human compassion and intelligence and goodness and sense of fairness can be found in our political candidates? When did we, as a society, decide it’s OK to treat people in a disrespectful way? It used to be that Facebook was filled with those ridiculous messages of inspiration for humanity: “Tread lightly, you don’t know what challenges he’s had” or “Be kind to everyone. God may be testing you”? No, these days it’s “If you vote for candidate B, you’re white trash” or “Unfriend/unfollow me if you support candidate A”. I admit, there were times when those sugary-sweet memes hit my timeline that I’ve wanted to add a touch of sarcasm, but after this election, I’ll take a timeline FILLED with those cheesy sentiments over the darkness of political memes.

We’ve all hit new lows, not just these candidates and campaign workers. We all have responsibility to the monstrosity this has become. It’s bigger than any of us. If there’s anything at all we can all collectively agree on, it’s that we’re about to emerge from this 10th ring of hell we’ve endured. That’s the good news. The bad news is one of these candidates will win.

Don’t Kid Yourself: We Lose in this Election

 

I’m sure there’s some historical or Biblical reference to the events we’re seeing unfold in contemporary American politics. I’ll leave that to those who can actually make a reasonable connection; I’m more interested in how it’s capture-20160809-191531affecting our daily lives. Horrible, faded and greedy – all apt descriptions of candidates across the political realm. Others may toss in a few more descriptive adjectives: murderous, selfish, evil: all points I wouldn’t argue.

For years, we, as average Americans, may have been passive in our willingness to demand accountability. In many ways, politicians were like celebrities. These glamorous movie stars occupied the left coast while the arrogance that defines the elite politicians occupied the right coast. Somewhere in the middle, the rest of us created our spaces. Lately, they’ve begun invading our space and time and thoughts – and with each intrusion, the celebrities and the politicians feel even more entitled to claim what they never owned to start with: our loyalty.

If loyalty’s not an option, then feel free to never again darken their Facebook or Twitter pages:

Facebook

Facebook

But we always could rely on our politicians to exercise their loyalty to their own parties, right? Really, who demands something they refuse to show in their own actions? Elected leaders, that’s who makes those kinds of demands:

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Senator Susan Collins, after initially saying she would support the Republican nominee, rescinded that comment and now says she does not support Donald Trump. “If I were giving him advice, I would tell him he should own up to making mistakes…and he should stop insulting people.” What’s worse is that she’s considering voting for Clinton.

My favorite display of disloyalty comes not from a politician, per se, but a former John McCain aide, Mark Salter. He’s clearly missed the irony in his statement, “Are we in such dire straits that we must dispense with civility, kindness, tolerance and normal decency to put a mean-spirited, lying jerk in the White House?” What’s interesting is his tweet of “I’m With Her”, which is the rallying cry for Clinton supporters, answers his own question.

While there’s some evidence of Democratic politicians crossing over to support Trump, they’re certainly not advertising it, which makes them smarter on that point alone. After all, they’ve seen the implosion of the Republican Party now that it’s coming apart at the seams.

Is this really what our society has become in terms of leadership, power, strength and everything else that used to define this country? Our own government is suing itself, for God’s sake.

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And what should the residents of Louisiana do now that their governor has sued their employers? Big oil is as controversial as it gets and for good reason, but usually, politicians promise to increase jobs and clear the path for companies to do business in their respective states. The last thing a governor does is jeopardize the future of the nation’s second largest oil producing state. Unless you’re Governor John Bel Edwards. The industry that employs 300,000 people and accounts for more than $70 billion in revenue each year is now in his crosshairs.

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In all fairness, he’s right about the coast being in a major crisis, but haven’t we learned by now that Big Oil just doesn’t care for what the governor is hoping will be an “amicable solution”? Read the story here.

If there’s been anything at all that could remotely be construed as a silver lining, it’s that there have been many truths exposed to the American people. Problem is, the exposure on both sides is so irretrievably broken that we’ve come to the realization that this election no longer has any semblance of a dignified, informed and ethical process. The worst thing for Americans to do is to allow these poor choices to divide us. Ulterior political motives have already caused a division of races, a national debt that is so surreal that there’s no use pretending it could actually be repaid and a massive global stage in which the rest of the world is watching, alternating between shock, disbelief and humor.

Congress shows up when it serves a purpose. They would have us believe they’re battling their contemporaries to secure funding for whatever cause constituents are demanding, but they’re fooling no one. They’re always ready to jump out of their chairs the moment their extravagant vacations begin.

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Meanwhile, the campaigning continues, each new day bringing a new and ridiculous “media created, politician approved” scandal. Just consider the ones from last week – we’ve heard nothing else since these breaking news stories made the rounds and instead, the media has steered our attention to today’s crisis, whatever it might be.

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And now, we’re expected to be prepared later this year to cast our votes for one of the two most disturbing candidates to ever attempt to lead the world’s greatest nation. That old saying that making a real change at the polls is irrelevant: no matter what voters do at the polls, we will most certainly lose.

WikiLeaks and DNC – Wonderful Insanity Awaits

Anticipating the latest WikiLeaks drop over the past couple of days regarding DNC has kept many of us distracted. What I and many others didn’t realize is just how disturbing the truth really is. There are a few things to know if you’re planning on spending the weekend knee-deep in the latest cesspool of American politics.

First, Twitter has been busy manipulating its trending hashtags. #DNCLeaks was the number one trending hashtag and had been since the WikiLeaks drop. It suddenly disappeared and only after users demanded an explanation, it reappeared, albeit altered. #DNCLeaks became #DNCLeak.

The media has suddenly become virtuous and are now ethical bodies that refuse to address such scandalous nonsense. They have other things to focus on – namely anything but the contents in the data leak.

There are many references to Black Lives Matter leader DeRay McKesson, too. Use the search option to get a complete list. Worth a read, to be sure.

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Prepare to be incredibly and permanently changed. The reality slowly seeps in until finally, you can no longer continue to blow off those who say, “The American political system has absolutely nothing to do with who you vote for”. It is indeed rigged. Your voice nor your vote matter.

I’ve spent entirely too much time plundering through what amounts to a small percentage of the 20,000 emails. I feel like I need to scrub my brain. There are more than a few “What the hell…” revelations and here’s one of my very favorite gems – it’s delightful, I tell you – it’s delightful. This is a fundraising email sent out by Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Simple and expected, right? I mean, we all get these pleas for money. It’s the American way: the ones with the most resources turn to those who are not even remotely considered the so-called “Top 1%” and ask for money that will be used against us at some point. Finally -FINALLY – someone fires back. See the original here. (I can’t seem to get the fonts large enough nor a screen shot that’s possible to read in this WP theme).

From: Debbie Wasserman Schultz [mailto:democraticparty@democrats.org]

Sent: Friday, May 06, 2016 2:36 PM

To: Julie Scardiglia

Subject: Join me in Knoxville June 3rd!

Image removed by sender. Democrats]

Friend– As of this week, Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee. The contrast between his values and the values our Democratic candidates defend every day could not be more stark. As Democrats, we have a lot on the line. It is crucial that we push back on the backwards GOP rhetoric and make our voices heard this election cycle. Please join me for a reception in Knoxville, Tennessee on Friday, June 3rd. This is your chance to ask me questions about what the DNC is doing to fight back and to strategize together about how to win in November.

You can RSVP through the following link: https://finance.democrats.org/KnoxvilleReception

Thank you for all you do, and I look forward to seeing you in Knoxville!

Here’s the reply that’s full of wonder and magic:

From: Julie Scardiglia [mailto:jscardiglia@earthlink.net]

Sent: Friday, May 06, 2016 2:45 PM

To: Seminerio, Nick

Subject: 

RE: Join me in Knoxville June 3rd!

DWS, you’re almost as corrupt as $hillary Clinton. I’ve already left the Democratic party—after 32 years. Lots of us have. And you and your direction for the Democratic party are a large reason why.

HRC is the other reason.

It’s coming—the shock you will feel when MILLIONS of us won’t vote for Shillary–PERIOD.

Fuck you.

Finally, Mike Cernovich has done some impressive research on the entire brouhaha. Here’s a link to his most recent piece with five of what he believes are the more damaging revelations. Follow him on Twitter, too.

One of the biggest problems in the entire drop is the way Bernie Sanders was treated. The blatant disrespect of some folks is unbelievable – until you see it in black and white. Then it’s disappointing and serves as an example of how horrible the human condition can truly be.

RIP, Gas and Oil Industry

It’s been a brutal year for the energy sector, specifically those who make their money in the gas and oil industries. With a couple of weeks left in this year, it could get much worse. In fact, it likely will.

The Paris Climate Agreement will no doubt be one of the most earth-shattering events, if not the most earth-shattering event, in our lifetime. No pun intended. It’s not for the reasons most think though. It’s about so much more than a hashtag and world governments tweeting how they’ve saved the earth. In fact, it has very little to do with those grand gestures, much as they are, but rather, it comes down to what’s going on already, the timing and the folks most affected by the agreement.  In fact, for most of us, it won’t mean much of a difference at all. Seriously, I can’t think of a single way that the climate (in the context it’s used today) affects everyday life. Besides, even if I could, there are many who’d argue my way of thinking was wrong. That’s what it is for most of us. Few even bother because everyone is just so sure of what they believe. You can’t change the mind of one who insists the earth is warming no more than you can change the mind of someone who thinks it’s ridiculous silliness. Count me among the latter.

But…ask someone whose bank account is affected. Now that’s an interesting debate!

Just to get an idea of what lies ahead, here are some of the quotes from the past hour or so since the agreement was announced:

Bill McKibben, Co-founder 350.org:

“Every government seems now to recognize that the fossil fuel era must end and soon…Since pace is the crucial question now, activists must redouble our efforts to weaken that industry.”

May Boeve, Executive Director 350.org:

“This marks the end of the era of fossil fuels. There is no way to meet the targets laid out in this agreement without keeping coal, oil and gas in the ground. The text should send a clear signal to fossil fuel investors: divest now.

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Believe me when I say it – there’s not a single oil executive who’s not ready to come unglued.

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I’ve said all year that the fourth quarter was going to be brutal. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that much. Even if the oil industry wasn’t limping along, there was one dynamic that many denied, but was as obvious as a pimple on a 16 year old homecoming queen’s nose: Obama was hellbent on ensuring climate change comes full circle while he’s still in office. And why not? He’s annihilated everything else he’s touched. It makes sense that he’d bet his Nobel Peace Prize on forcing climate change. He’s even taking complete credit for it:

Today, the American people can be proud — because this historic agreement is a tribute to American leadership.

You can read his statement in its entirety here.

So where does that leave gas and oil? Well, considering the losses in recent weeks, especially after the recent OPEC meeting, things are looking as dark as the oil out of the ground. But let’s start with the MLPs. Specifically, let’s start with the MLP that is no longer an MLP. Kinder Morgan was the master limited partnership darling. Up until hours before the giant announced it was cutting its dividends by a whopping 75%, there were folks still singing its praises, certain the moon would fall from the sky before the dividends would be cut. Y’all watch out for that falling moon.

It’s now obvious that the MLPs are indeed exposed to the same threats as any other company in the sector. The threats just appear differently. It’s because everything is so intertwined. But a -42% YTD? That’s worrisome.

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Then, we had the humongous and inexplicable 2 million units of Energy Transfer Equity, valued at more than $34 million, that was bought by the four head honchoes this week. The company’s CEO, Kelcy Warren, bought the vast majority – $32 million. It helped nothing. We’re talking double digit losses in a single day:

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This article from Brian over at Valuentum Securities hits on Friday. There are more than a few unhappy folks. Someone’s lying. If nothing else, download the 10Q and run your own math. If you have money in ETE, you have an obligation to know what’s going on with it.

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Also last week, we learned there’s a good chance (so we’ve been told) that despite what was said weeks ago – export bans were in place for the long haul – there’s now a possibility that those bans might be lifted. Wonderful news, right? Except for the fact that the Paris Climate Deal pretty much makes it moot.

Well, at least we still have big oil, right? Maybe not. They’re all cutting their 2016 budgets – layoffs and CAPEX. The cuts are big. Chevron especially is taking a hard hit.

Think shale’s the answer? Nah. Not even close. We’re not the only ones fracking. It’s still expensive, despite the advances and while all of this drilling’s been done, with plenty of oil waiting to be pulled from Mother Earth, the race is on to see what happens first: the companies go bankrupt (several have already filed) or the need for the oil materializes. We have a huge glut with barges filling up by the hour.

It’s doubtful the Saudis planned it this way, but the reality is if companies begin fracking again, and considering they’ve found faster ways of accomplishing it, it’s going to run the supply right back up, which starts the cycle again: too much supply, not enough demand.

And finally – let’s not forget the politics. Obama now has to return to the good ol’ United States of America and face the politicians who rely on the oil and gas industries to pad their pockets with dirty money.

Let’s be clear: it’s a slow dance and we are most certainly not leading it.

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