Why Isn’t Stephen Moore Still Bragging about Coal As #1?

Recall from July 2017, when Stephen Moore wrote an article entitled “When It Comes To Electric Power, Coal Is No. 1” ?

No more. Now, lying has never been an impediment to Mr. Moore claiming something that was untrue (see [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] ) — but in this case perhaps it’s just so clearly untrue, he was chastened:

Figure 1: Share of all fuels net power generation accounted for by coal (red) and natural gas (blue). Orange shading denotes Trump administration. Source: EIA and author’s calculations.

So much for “winning” (coal edition). Not that I’m complaining.

Addendum, 2/15 9am Pacific

Figure 2:  Net power generation accounted for by coal (red) and natural gas (blue). Orange shading denotes Trump administration. Source: EIA

27 thoughts on “Why Isn’t Stephen Moore Still Bragging about Coal As #1?

  1. pgl

    I’m looking at coal prices over time wondering how Stephen Moore might spin this chart:


    Let’s see – coal prices rose from early 2016 to mid 2017. Of course they rose a lot before Trump was elected and have basically fallen since. And never mind that $86 a ton is far below the near $200 per ton a decade ago.

    1. baffling

      rampell is a star. krugman was bragging about her years ago, when she was a student first getting started in the news. this is an example of one star (rampell) who actually knows the numbers and understands them, versus another joker (moore) who is data illiterate and makes arguments from authority. moore comes across as an uneducated knowitall and a fool in this clash. notice how quiet he gets after being put in his place. unfortunately, these fools rarely get placed across from a star who is willing to shut them down, so their message gets out more often than I would like. kudos to catherine-she deserves a bigger voice.

      1. Moses Herzog

        Those were “the good old days” of the NYT Business section when Rampell was there along with Uwe Reinhardt. It’s still a good Business section but not half what it was when those two were blogging. I miss Uwe’s writing and contributions a lot. Uwe cared about the working class very much, and spoke out and wrote for the working class of America. Uwe represents the better part of German character (as opposed to the darker parts of German nature, which have been thoroughly and rightfully documented).

        I like to think some of the better economists out there (of which I consider Menzie to be one in this category) empathize with and have deep feeling to the working class and those from backgrounds where they may not have “ready made” access to education, quality employment etc. Uwe Reinhardt was certainly that guy. As is Miss Rampell as well. As we saw in her assertive “takedown” (intellectual “KO”??) of Mr. Moore. If she didn’t care, she wouldn’t have body-slammed him so viciously. It got so bad there, for a split second I thought Stephen Moore was a Big Van Vader opponent.

        1. Barkley Rosser

          Well, Mose, at least you are recognizing that Catherine Rampell is pretty smart and competent. But, there you go again, calling her “Miss Rampell.” Sorry, but you are wrong again. In 2014 she married Chris Conlon, an econ prof at Columbia to whom by last report she remains married.. So, she is “Ms.” or maybe “Mrs.” but not “Miss.” That is simply false.

          Are you calling all these married women “Miss” because you are hoping that actually they are not married and you can ask them out for a date? Well, I know that is probably not true in general as some of these married women you have called “Miss” you have denounced as liars or stupid, although maybe you are looking for some kind of special challenge in your social life.

          1. Moses Herzog

            @ Barkley Junior
            Barkley Junior, no matter what happens, “You do you”, and keeping speaking out against inequalities, and ALL who support inequalities, in your very long and continued tenure at James Madison University. Please speak out loud Barkley Junior wherever you see inequalities or injustices, that offend you. Or even those honoring of the names of those who participated in the institution of slavery.

            “Yet by the end of his life, Madison was no longer even convinced that emancipation was superior to slavery. In 1836, he ended a letter to the Editor of the Farmers’ Register with this unexpected conclusion:

            ‘It is most obvious, they [slaves] themselves are infinitely worsted by the exchange from slavery to liberty—if, indeed, their condition deserves that name.'[21]
            Ultimately, Madison’s personal dependence on slavery led him to question his own, once enlightened, definition of liberty itself. ”

            Fight on!!!!! Brave and courageous Professor Barkley Junior, in your never-ending war waged against inequalities. You, Sir, are indeed, an American hero and a good representation of what Virginia is all about recently. Something in the headlines about your Governor I can’t quite seem to recall….. well, I’ll think of it eventually.

          2. Barkley Rosser

            Getting desperate are we, Moses, given that you keep falling on your face here with your repeated sexist remarks? This is pretty ridiculous.

            As it is, I have called for the resignation of Governor Northam on Econospeak, although if he, Lt. Gov. Fairfax, and AG Herring all resign, the governor will then become the racist and homophobic House Speaker, Kirk Cox, a flaming reactionary far more supportive of inequality than any of them. In any case, I think it is more important to focus on living advocates of inequality and racism than on ones who died nearly two centuries ago.

          3. Barkley Rosser

            BTW, Mose, since you seem to think that there is some sort of shame in working at a place connected to the slave-owning and slavery-defending Father of the Constitution, I note that Menzie works at a uni located in Madison, Wisconsin, yes, named for that same awful gentleman, having been named after him in 1837 when the founding of the city closely followed Madison’s death. So, if I need to go around wearing sackcloth and ashed over this matter, I guess he does as well. Anyway, I shall be in good company, :-).

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      CoRev: I just posted levels of production. I don’t see how any implication changes with this data. This is an irrelevant point to the argument that coal based generation is falling.

      1. 2slugbaits

        Menzie Posting the levels appears to tell us something even more important. Just looking at the time series (i.e., without benefit of formal testing), it’s pretty clear that the seasonality in the coal time series is additive whereas the seasonality in the natural gas time series is multiplicative (i.e., nonstationary with increasing amplitudes). There’s an obvious intuition that might explain the different seasonality behaviors, and that intuition is not good news for the coal industry.

      2. pgl

        CoRev must have read the lead of his link and nothing else. The first chart in the link confirms what your post said quite clearly. And later there was this:

        ‘This was the first year since 2008 that both gas- and coal-fired generation declined, EIA noted. But for renewable energy it is a different story, despite the country’s declining demand. Wind made up 6.3% of total net generation, and utility-scale solar made up 1.3%, both of which were record shares. Hydroelectricity accounted for 7.5% of net generation, but the resource got a boost from record precipitation in California.
        EIA said it “expects hydro to continue to exceed wind in 2018, but wind is projected to become the predominant renewable electricity generation source in 2019.”‘

        Coal is losing ground not only to natural gas but also to renewable energy. I see this as a good thing even if Stephen Moore does not get it.

      3. CoRev

        Menzie, I post less and less because of comments like yours and pgl’s. You complained: “This is an irrelevant point to the argument that coal based generation is falling.” Which is an obvious conclusion that most of us are well aware. Even your own data show the decline occurring for ~ a decade before your point time frame.

        Perhaps as an economist you could give us a brief list of reasons for such a decline.

        1. pgl

          Lord! You read the first paragraph and skip the rest of the discussion in your own link and now you whine when we point out what your own link actually said. “I post less and less” should be edited to “I read less and less”.

    2. baffling

      corev, if you read the article you posted, you will see that wind and solar are the rising stars in the energy sector. fuel price fluctuations are an inherent part of gas and coal, and the uncertainty is a negative compared to the stable costs of renewable energy. coal is currently a lost cause, evidenced by the lack of new coal plants coming online. coal will never come back. nat gas is simply a placeholder while the renewables continue to grow, then it will also go offline. the future of the world is electric from renewables, not fossil fuels.

    3. pgl

      CoRev – do you always post links that you have failed to read or what? The very first chart in your own link confirms rather dramatically what Menzie’s post notes.

      Yea we know Team Trump pays you to defend their nonsense but your efforts here as usual fall terribly flat.

  2. joseph

    CoRev, if you squint really hard at the chart for a while and carefully select your start date you might be able to discern a HIATUS!

    1. baffling

      first, we have to figure out if today he believes in the hiatus or not. it varies by the day. it is kind of like in the rampell takedown of moore that moses posted. one minute moore was advocating for free trade and was anti-tariff. and then in the same breadth he was advocating for tariffs. these folks do not worry about their contradictory positions, only winning the current argument. that is why moore came off as such a lousy loser in the video linked above.

  3. pgl

    Trump’s “National Emergency” Declaration was a hot mess of word salad.

    Trump began the announcement by noting the administration’s ongoing trade negotiations with China moving onto trade talks with the UK. Is the trade war he started our national emergency. Then he talked about North Korea and Syria. On that’s the national emergency which requires a wall on our southern border I guess as Mexico is a secret ally of the Syrians and North Koreans!

    He next decided to note how well the economy is doing. This is the national emergency?

    OK 10 minutes in he starts his usual lies about Hispanic immigrants including how his wall would someone solve the drug problem. But then he got sidetracked again over China and our economy. Then he said ““What happens is more people want to come. So we have far more people trying to get into our country today than probably we’ve ever had before”. OK – this is a lie but at least he is getting back to the topic at hand. Of course he had to address why no wall in his first 2 terms. Just as you thought he’d start accepting the blame – he hammered Congress, which of course was run by Republicans back then. Of course this was followed by court bashing and scaring people by noting MS-13. Of course the New Yorker headline was:

    “I Didn’t Need to Do This”: Donald Trump Declares a National Emergency

    If he doesn’t need to do this – then there is no emergency except for the fact that our President may be the dumbest person ever born!

    1. 2slugbaits

      a hot mess of word salad

      Boy howdy, you got that right. He just rambled all over the ballpark. Stream of consciousness stuff on steroids. He couldn’t complete a thought before bolting over to some other series of crowd rally rants. You have to believe all of those inside stories about how he has no mental discipline and cannot stay focused on a single topic for longer than a New York minute. His drug problem from the 80s has done some serious damage to his brain. Hot mess of a word salad indeed. And I really loved it when he talked about what a grandmaster deal maker he is…this from the guy who just got $0.3B less for the Wall than the Democrats offered him two months ago! No wonder he’s gone bankrupt so many times. What a loser.

    2. baffling

      “a hot mess of word salad.”
      a random word generator could probably provide more coherent statements than those from the toddler in chief!

  4. pgl

    Trump really has trouble answering questions from the press:


    ‘During President Donald Trump’s remarks on a new national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border, a reporter pushed back against the president’s characterization of immigration and crime, asking: “What do you base your facts on?” The reporter pointed to statistics that show that illegal immigration is down and that drugs come through official ports of entry, not outside them, as Trump often claims. “I use many stats,” Trump said, after telling the reporter to repeatedly sit down.’

    Many stats? Alternative statistics like alternative facts ala KellyAnneConway? Or maybe Trump gets his statistics from John Lott!

    Even Ann Coulter is calling Trump an idiot!

  5. joseph

    The new precedent set by Trump with Mitch McConnell’s acquiescence will be interesting. It’s going to be awesome on January 21, 2021 when President Harris declares climate change to be a national emergency and shuts down all of the coal fired plants. There will be plenty of money for the entire New Green Deal under emergency powers using the $700 billion military budget as a slush fund, according to precedent.

    On day two will be the declaration of gun violence killing 30,000 citizens a year as a national emergency requiring the registration of all guns in the U.S. and banning of the sale of semi-automatic weapons.

    McConnell has no idea what he is unleashing.

  6. 2slugbaits

    joseph I’m not sure the Democrats would abuse the “national emergency” excuse in the same way that an utterly unprincipled President Trump has. There’s a certain ethical asymmetry between Democrats and MAGA luv’n Trump loyalists. Democrats would probably be inhibited from abusing the national emergency laws, but Trump has no such inhibitions. It’s just Trump Unchained! Trump has no more qualms about abusing the English language than he does about abusing women.

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