It used to be that coal dominated energy consumption around the world, as this fossil fuel was both abundant and relatively cheap to use. But as big oil stepped in, the past few decades have seen dependence on coal cool off. In more recent years, coal has taken an even bigger hit as developed countries have attacked the fuel source for its negative environmental impact. As fracking continues to pick up steam and alternative energy sources enjoy growth, many are left wondering what the future holds for coal [for more coal news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].
As markets continue to roar forward, many investors have turned their gaze toward the commodity world, wondering how this asset class will fare after a “super-cycle” filled with gains. While there are a number of important factors at play, it is widely agreed that China will have a significant impact on the future of some of the world’s most popular hard assets. What is not widely agreed upon, is whether or not the Chinese economy will hinder or enable commodities going forward, as the emerging nation has seen its economy cool off [for more commodity news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].
When it comes to the fuel of the future, many have been touting the advantages of natural gas for our economy, while others point to alternative energies to lead us into the future. But for some reason, coal rarely seems to enter the conversation, as many feel that it is a dated and no longer dominant resource. That argument seems to be subsiding however, as many are beginning to see the advantages of adopting coal as a larger part of our future energy strategy. After suffering for a few years, however, coal may be poised for a comeback not only in price, but also in prevalence [for more coal news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].
Establishing exposure to the energy sector is by no means for the faint of heart. Positions in this corner of the commodity universe are ripe with risk and are often times associated with high volatility. But for those who can stomach the risk, allocations to energy can certainly pay off as demand continues to grow across developed and emerging markets alike. Investments in this sector can also be used as tactical tool to hedge against inflation, since increases in the price of commodities like oil and gas prices tend to ripple across the economy. For those who wish to establish a tactical tilt towards the energy sector, we outline an all ETF portfolio that is designed to give well rounded exposure to multiple segments of the energy market [for more energy allocation ideas subscribe to our free newsletter].
Coal has been mined across the world since the Bronze Age, becoming an important commodity during Roman times, especially in what is today Great Britain. However, the true Golden Age of coal began with the start of the Industrial Revolution in Europe and North America in the late 1700′s and early 1800′s. Coal was cheaper than wood for fuel and nearly as abundant, helping to power steam engines across the continent and get the world’s economy going into the industrial age. After the steam engine, coal became an important fuel source for the modern electric utility company, which can trace its start back to the early 1880′s. Once again, coal was an abundant fuel source that was easy to burn and turn into electricity, ensuring that the mineral became one of the most popular ways for mankind to power their homes and businesses.