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“This Is Beyond Imagination”: Polish Homeowners Line Up For Days To Buy Coal Ahead Of Winter

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Tim Wright / Getty Images

Several weeks ago we reported that amid Europe’s mindblowing gas and electricity prices, Deutsche Bank predicted that a growing number of German households will be using firewood for heating, a forecast which appears to have become self-fulfilling as German google searches for firewood (“brennholz”) had since exploded off the charts:

But while Germans are still “searching” merely in the virtual realm, for countless Poles the search is all too real.

According to Reuters, with Poland still basking in the late summer heat, hundreds of cars and trucks have already lined up at the Lubelski Wegiel Bogdanka coal mine, as householders fearful of winter shortages wait for days and nights to stock up on heating fuel ahead of the coming cold winter in queues reminiscent of communist times.

Artur, 57, a pensioner, drove up from Swidnik, some 30 km (18 miles) from the mine in eastern Poland on Tuesday, hoping to buy several tonnes of coal for himself and his family.

“Toilets were put up today, but there’s no running water,” he said, after three nights of sleeping in his small red hatchback in a crawling queue of trucks, tractors towing trailers and private cars. “This is beyond imagination, people are sleeping in their cars. I remember the communist times but it didn’t cross my mind that we could return to something even worse.”

Artur’s household is one of the nearly 4 million in Poland that rely on coal for heating (granted, these households are probably in better shape than the ones relying on nat gas whose price is rising by 10-20% every day and is now almost literally in the stratosphere) and now face shortages and price hikes, after Poland and the European Union imposed an embargo on Russian coal following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February. Poland banned purchases with an immediate effect in April, while the bloc mandated fading them out by August.

While Poland produces over 50 million tonnes from its own mines every year, imported coal, much of it from Russia, is a household staple because of competitive prices and the fact that Russian coal is sold in lumps more suitable for home use.

Soaring demand has forced Bogdanka and other state-controlled mines to ration sales or offer the fuel to individual buyers via online platforms, in limited amounts. Artur, who did not want to give his full name, said he had collected paperwork from his extended family in the hope of picking up all their fuel allocations at once.

The mine planned to sell fuel for some 250 households on Friday and would continue sales over the weekend to cut waiting times, Dorota Choma, a spokeswoman for the Bogdanka mine told Reuters.  The limits are in place to prevent hoarding and profiteering on the black market, or even selling spots in the queue, Choma said.

Like all Polish coal mines, Bogdanka typically sells most of the coal it produces to power plants. Last year, it sold less than 1% of its output to individual clients so lacks the logistics to sell fuel directly to retail buyers.

Lukasz Horbacz, head of the Polish Coal Merchant Chamber of Commerce, said the decline in Russian imports began in January when Moscow started using rail tracks for military transport.

“But the main reason for the shortages is the embargo that went into immediate effect. It turned the market upside down,” he told Reuters. A spokesman for the Weglokoks, a state-owned coal trader tasked by the government to boost imports from other countries declined to comment, while the climate ministry was not available for comment. Government officials have repeatedly said Poland would have enough fuel to meet demand.

In recent years, Poland has been the most vocal critic of EU climate policy set by a petulant Scandinavian teenager, and a staunch defender of coal that generates as much as 80% of its electricity. But coal output has steadily declined as the cost of mining at deeper levels increases. Coal consumption has held mostly steady, prompting a gradual rise in imports. In 2021, Poland imported 12 million tonnes of coal, of which 8 million tonnes came from Russia and used by households and small heating plants.

In July, Poland ordered two state-controlled companies to import several million tons of the fuel from other sources including Indonesia, Colombia and Africa, and introduced subsidies for homeowners facing a doubling or tripling of coal prices from last winter.

“As much as 60% of those that use coal for heating may be affected by energy poverty,” Horbacz said.

Back at Bogdanka, Piotr Maciejewski, 61, a local farmer who joined the queue on Tuesday, said he was prepared for a long wait. “My tractor stays in line, I’m going home to get some sleep,” he said.

This post originally appeared at Zero Hedge

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Economy

Rand Paul Slams Alarmist Default Rhetoric, Outlines Fiscal Reform Plan

Senator labels doomsday talk as “completely dishonest”

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Steve Watson

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Senator Rand Paul has slammed ‘doomsday’ talk regarding the debt ceiling and a potential default, saying that such rhetoric is “completely dishonest.”

Appearing on Fox Business with Larry Kudlow, Paul noted that such alarmism will “worry the markets, and is bad for the country and bad for all of us,” further explaining that “There is absolutely no reason for us to default.”

“Our interest payments are about 400 billion,” Paul continued, adding “We bring in about five trillion, so we have plenty of money to pay our interest payments. We have plenty of money to pay our soldiers, to pay our social security and to pay for Medicare.”

Paul went on to explain that spending has to be trimmed, but over time.

“We’re about a third overdrawn, so there’s an enormous amount of government we’d have to trim,” Paul asserted, adding “if you do it over a five-year period, what I proposed recently, you bring the baseline down, you cut $100 billion immediately and then you freeze spending for about four or five years. Guess what? You actually achieve balance through growth, and so it can be done and it can be done with very small amounts.”

Watch:

Earlier this week, Paul pointed out that the current back and forth between Democrats and Republicans over the debt ceiling should make it clear that fiscal reform is necessary.

“If we were to have a $100 billion cut — which would still have us spending way more than we spent before COVID — $100 billion cut and free spending,” Paul said at a press conference, noting “We would balance our budget in just four years.”

“We have an opportunity here. It could be done. But it would take compromise between both parties,” he continued. “Republicans would have to give up the sacred cow that says we will never touch a dollar in military, and the Democrats would have to give up the sacred cow that they will never touch a dollar in welfare.”

“President Biden needs to know absolutely he will negotiate and it’s better to start now,” Paul urged Wednesday.

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    MSM Outlets Demand To Know Who Guaranteed Bankman-Fried’s $250 Million Bond

    The public interest “cannot be overstated.”

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    Zero Hedge

    Gotham via Getty Images

    Eight MSM outlets have asked the US judge overseeing the case of Sam Bankman-Fried to make public the names of two people who helped front the FTX founder’s $250 million bond.

    The outlets – AP, Bloomberg, CNBC, WSJ publisher Dow Jones, the Financial Times, Insider and WaPo – along with a separate request by the NY Times – argue that the public interest “cannot be overstated,” saying that the public’s right to know outweighs the guarantors’ rights to privacy.

    In a letter to U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan, the lawyers distinguished the case from another judge’s December 2020 decision not to reveal who guaranteed a bond for British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, then accused and later convicted of aiding in financier Jeffrey Epstein’s sex crimes. –Reuters

    “While Mr. Bankman-Fried is accused of serious financial crimes, a public association with him does not carry nearly the same stigma as with the Jeffrey Epstein child sex trafficking scandal,” wrote lawyers for the outlets.

    Notably, the judge in the SBF case is the same one who presided over Ghislaine Maxwell’s case, while SBF’s lawyers, Mark Cohen and Christian Everdell, also represented Maxwell in her criminal case. SBF also hired James P. Harkins, a private investigator known as the “real hound dog,” who also worked for Ghislaine.

    SBF’s lawyers have argued that his parents – who co-signed the $250 million bond using their house as (very fractional) collateral, have been harassed and received physical threats since the early November collapse of FTX. One of the conditions of his bail would be house arrest at his parents’ home in Palo Alto, California.

    Source: Daily Mail

    According to the NY Post, the family had contracted a private security firm in the Bay Area to patrol the grounds for $10,000 per week to protect SBF from mounting death threats. 

    One source told the Post, “They’re [family] nervous … there have been numerous death threats. They’re not taking any chances.

    Bankman-Fried’s parents hired workers to construct a network of security cameras around the home on the edge of Stanford University’s campus. 

    SBF’s lawyers say there is a “serious cause for concern” over the two other guarantors if their names went public.

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    Economy

    Rolls-Royce Sales Hit Record As Rich Splurged On Luxury While Everyone Else Crushed By Inflation

    The ultra-wealthy were increasingly purchasing luxury vehicles.

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    Mike Kemp via Getty Images

    2022 was a terrible year for billionaires, many of which lost nearly $2 trillion combined.

    Despite stock, crypto, and bond market turmoil, as well as soaring interest rates, elevated inflation, and increased risk of economic uncertainty, the ultra-wealthy were increasingly purchasing luxury vehicles.

    Rolls-Royce Motor Cars published a press release stating it recorded its “highest-ever annual sales” in 2022, delivering 6,021 motor cars, up 8% versus 2021. 

    “This is the first time in the company’s 118-year history that its sales have exceeded 6,000 in a single 12-month period,” the British luxury carmaker said. 

    Rolls-Royce’s sales were led by the US, China, and European markets. The automaker said orders stretched well into this year and noted the high demand for its vehicles, many of which fetch $500k, which led to an expansion of the company’s Goodwood plant in the UK. 

    “2022 has been a momentous year for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars,” CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös wrote in a statement. 

    “Our order book stretches far into 2023 for all models,” Müller-Ötvös continued. “We haven’t seen any slowdown in orders.”

    Müller-Ötvös added the brand’s bespoke, customized approach to “ever more imaginative and technically demanding – a challenge we enthusiastically embrace.” 

    And it’s not just Rolls-Royce. Bentley and Lamborghini had record sales last year. 

    Lamborghini delivered 9,233 vehicles in 2022, a 10% increase from the year before. Bentley delivered 15,174 vehicles, a 4% increase over 2021, which was a record year. 

    The growth of luxury vehicle sales reflects high net wealth folks are doing just fine despite a vast amount of wealth vaporization due to central banks tightening monetary policy. As for everyone else, many folks can barely afford their $1,000 car payment, as an auto bust seems almost inevitable

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