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Posts Tagged ‘energy risk’

0 Sep 23 2010 @ 9:12am by Matt Smith in Crude Oil, energy consulting, Global Energy, risk management, Risk Strategy

PepsiCo Pro Talks Energy Over Chips and Salsa

I had the pleasure of meeting Mike Miller of PepsiCo earlier this year at the grand opening of our London office, and he was both an interesting and highly entertaining character. So when I decided to interview someone for the burrito, my first choice of interviewee was an easy decision. So Mike good-humoredly provided answers to some random questions I threw at him this week:

1) What is your current role at PepsiCo and what was your journey to get there?

Sr. Group Manager, Energy Risk. I have been in the energy industry since 1997, starting out as an engineering computer drawing specialist with Kansas City Power and Light. I then got into customer service of the largest 1000 tier 2 customers, followed by an Account Representative for the largest industrial customers in the service territory. I then went onto positions at Utilicorp and TXU in an energy management role for both companies. After both companies ceased their energy management services operations I ended up at PepsiCo.

2) What has been the biggest change you have seen since joining PepsiCo?

Risk management has changed everywhere based on more stringent controls. These changes have made my role more challenging.

3) If you could have a super-power what would it be?

I think it would be cool to be able to fly.

4) What is your favorite aspect of your job?

The challenging, never dull, environment at PepsiCo. I work in an area of many type A personalities and I realize that I would not be satisfied at any workplace that did not have this characteristic.

5) From your perspective, what is going to be the biggest challenge in the energy world over the next decade?

Moving away from the use of crude oil and products – globally. The world’s economic growth engine is powered by middle distillates and there do not appear to be ample substitutes that will be able to offset the global population growth, coupled with the economic surges of emerging countries such as China, India and Brazil.     

A cure for the blues.

6) When we met earlier in the year, you spoke of your love of 1920s and 1930s blues, and how you’d even studied it at evening classes. What song would be the soundtrack to one of your better days at work?

Blind Lemon Jefferson – Father of the Texas Blues – Song: Got the Blues.

 7) Sustainability is a key aspect of your business; do you believe your focus has shifted towards being more sustainable at the expense of price risk management, or are the two concepts mutually exclusive at PepsiCo?

PepsiCo has a very strong world class sustainability program. My group mostly focuses on price risk and energy management for the physical and financial exposures within PepsiCo. I do not believe there has been a negative effect from the sustainability program on our ability to manage price risk.

8) Your day has just taken a turn for the worse. What song would now be the soundtrack to your day?

I would have to turn to some sort of heavy – alternative rock like Linkin Park.

9) What’s your favorite commodity, and why?

Crude Oil – because it is a global commodity and it is more challenging to analyze on a fundamental basis than natural gas, since it is more of a regional commodity.

10) I understand you used to be a trader, and still use technical analysis in your current role. Technical analysis is great, isn’t it?

Technical analysis is useful for indentifying short term trends which can be advantageous for trading or forecasting activities within the next couple months. I spend much more of my time on fundamental analysis since it provides more viable information for the longer term.

11) What’s your favorite candy bar, and why?

Reeses Peanut butter cup. I grew up on peanut butter sandwiches when I was a kid.

12) Do you have a motto or a key phrase which resonates with you?

Rock on!

Thanks so much, Mike, for the insights. Rock on indeed!

0 Feb 25 2010 @ 7:40am by Matt Smith in Capital Markets, Economy, Global Energy, Random, risk management

Negative inflation starts with a ‘d’ and ends in tears

a deflationary environment would make it cheaper to phone home.

I made the above comment in my daily market update last Friday, before realizing the gravity of the adverse CPI (= consumer price index, aka inflation) number released that morning. The core CPI index (which differs from the ‘headline’ number, as it removes two of its most volatile components – food and energy prices) showed a negative print. ‘Big deal, burrito boy’, I hear you cry. But wait, my friend; this was a doozie of a print because it was the first negative print since 1982. Yep, we’re talking the year of E.T., the album Thriller, and the birth of Ben Roethlisberger. Let’s take a quiet moment reflect on how really, really long it has been since then.

Ok, lets move on.

Last week actually saw a double doozie of data releases – the first being the aformentioned 28-year breaking of a duck, while the second designated doozie was from the Federal Reserve (= the Fed), who raised the discount rate from 0.5% to 0.75% late Thursday evening. The discount rate is the interest rate charged to banks for direct loans, so although it doesn’t necessarily directly impact us mere mortals, it does issue a battle cry from the Fed that they are ready to fight the enemy – whatever form they may take.

But herein lies the problem: armed with the weapons to fight inflation doesn’t mean you can do the absolute opposite to avoid deflation. War against inflation lends itself to raising interest rates or decreasing the money supply as two of the more common weapons wielded (incidentally, the latter is where Ben Bernanke got his ‘helicopter Ben’ moniker from; back in 2002 he said the best way to invoke inflation was to throw money from a helicopter). On the flip side, the onset of deflation can be staved off through the promotion of confidence in an economy, but like a bite from a vampire, once deflation sets in, all you can do is let it run its course (ie – become undead).

Japan proffers a deflationary horror story twicefold; not only because it suffered a ‘lost decade’ starting in the early 1990’s, but because the US is on a similar trajectory (a real estate bubble + equity market bubble = zero interest rates and quantitative easing….sound scarily familiar??). That’s not to say the Fed are not aware of the perils of their decisions – quite the opposite. And that’s why we should worry – if we can see them using their silver bullets, we know all too well how many they have left.

deflation = more zombies, less thrills

Now, to wrap this up in our all-encompassing tortilla. Deflation, by its very definition, is a general decline in prices. I am not declaring that we have lost the battle to deflation, I am merely highlighting that deflation is a real and potential risk to our economy. And if this were to happen, energy commodity prices would be dragged lower with every other asset class. Even worse, if the engine-room of the current global recovery – emerging markets – were to avoid such a deflationary environment, it would only exacerbate the problem in the US by continuing to boost global commodity prices. A horrifying prospect indeed. On that bombshell, I’ll leave you with this; the conundrum of how to deal with deflation reminds me of Woody Allen…he once said ‘I got this powdered water – now I don’t know what to add’. The answer for this is the same as it is for deflation…….silence.