OPEC, Biden and Gas Prices

A tanker delivers gas to a Speedway gas station in Alexandria, Va., May 13. Photo: shawn thew/Shutterstock


As cognitive dissonance goes, this is a classic. President Biden’s explicit policy goal is to reduce U.S. oil and gas production, limiting the global supply of fossil fuels in the name of fighting climate change. Yet his Administration is now imploring the OPEC oil cartel to pump more oil so U.S. gasoline prices don’t rise more than they already have on Mr. Biden’s watch.

Oil prices climbed to a six-year high on Tuesday after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and Russia failed to agree on increasing production quotas. Last spring OPEC slashed production quotas after crude prices plunged to $20 per barrel amid economic lockdowns and a price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia.

But energy demand has snapped back in much of the world as Covid-19 vaccines roll out, governments ease lockdowns, and freight shipments surge. U.S. petroleum consumption is now roughly where it was at this time in 2019. OPEC estimates that oil demand in industrialized countries will increase by 2.7 million barrels a day this year.

In early June OPEC modestly raised production quotas, but demand is still rebounding faster than supply. The upshot is that crude prices are averaging around $74 a barrel, up 45% or so this year. OPEC countries naturally want to take advantage of the pandemic recovery to boost production and generate more petrodollars to fund their governments.

But a squabble between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates over quotas is blocking an agreement, sending U.S. gasoline prices to a near seven-year high. Enter the Biden Administration. A White House spokesperson on Monday said it is urging OPEC and its allies to quickly come up with a compromise “that will allow proposed production increases to move forward.”

The Administration is worried that higher gas prices could undermine Mr. Biden’s climate agenda and spending plans. Republicans have been linking his veto of the Keystone XL pipeline with higher gas prices. The two aren’t directly related. But no Keystone does mean that more crude from Canada and the northern Bakken Shale will have to move by rail to U.S. refiners.

This is contributing to higher freight demand and prices, as well as supply-chain bottlenecks, all of which are adding to inflationary pressure. Consumers feel the pain at the pump and on their utility bills as natural gas and propane prices have also surged. Rising energy costs are also feeding into the higher price of goods more broadly.

Mr. Biden knows surging prices for gas and other goods hurt middle-class Americans and could undermine his Presidency. This is one reason he refused a proposal to pay for the Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure deal by increasing the gas tax.

But note the irony that Mr. Biden is now urging OPEC to open its taps even while his Administration is pursuing policies with the goal of shutting down U.S. oil and natural gas production. His Administration has sought to halt new leases on federal land, suspended leases in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and is expanding endangered-species protections to limit oil production on private land, among other policies designed to punish fossil fuels.

But reducing U.S. production means reduced global supply even as demand surges. This means more pricing leverage for OPEC and Russia—and for Iran if Mr. Biden lets Tehran escape sanctions on its oil exports as part of a renewed nuclear deal. So Russia and Iran will benefit from Mr. Biden’s fossil-fuel disarmament while Americans pay more for energy.

The way out of such contradictions would be to let U.S. producers respond to higher prices without new political obstacles. He can tell the climate lobby it beats political defeat.

WSJ Opinion: Meet Joe Biden’s New Entitlement State

WSJ Opinion: Meet Joe Biden's New Entitlement State
Journal Editorial Report: Paul Gigot interviews economist John Cogan. Image: Mandel Ngan/AFP

Copyright ©2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

Appeared in the July 7, 2021, print edition.


Ireland Joins Biden’s ‘Global Minimum Tax’ Plan


Ben Zeisloft

Ireland — formerly one of the few holdouts for a pending international “global minimum tax” plan — has joined the agreement.

During a June meeting of the G7, President Biden and other world leaders proposed a “strong global minimum tax” of “at least” 15%. The White House lauded the policy as a “critical step towards ending the decades-long race to the bottom that pushes nations to compete over who can offer the lowest tax rate to large corporations at the expense of protecting workers, investing in infrastructure, and growing the middle class.”

Smaller nations — which have historically relied upon lower corporate taxes to compete on the world stage with more developed economies — were initially hesitant to sign the deal. In July, a handful of countries — Barbados, Estonia, Hungary, Ireland, Kenya, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, St. Vincent, Peru, and the Grenadines — refused to join the 130 other Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development member states that endorsed the plan.

Among the most important holdouts, however, was Ireland — which has historically relied upon its 12.5% corporate tax rate to differentiate itself from its Western European neighbors.

As Irish finance minister Paschal Donohoe said: “Ireland expressed our broad support for the agreement on Pillar Two but noting our reservation about the proposal for a global minimum effective tax rate of ‘at least 15%.’ As a result of this reservation, Ireland is not in a position to join the consensus.”

However, Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar announced in early October that the OECD has amended the text of the arrangement in a way that “does respond to a lot, if not all of the concerns” raised by Ireland. Indeed, the new version of the bill removed the phrase “at least” — implying that the minimum tax rate will not be hiked in the future.

“In joining this agreement, we must remember that there are 140 countries involved in this process and many have had to make compromises,” said Donohoe. “But I also believe that the agreement [sic] government has agreed to sign up to today is balanced and represents a fair compromise reflecting the interests and input of the many countries involved in the negotiations.”

However, CNBC reports that an opinion poll for The Irish Times shows that the majority of voters in Ireland believe the government should not modify its tax policy.

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Fromm Dog Food Recalled Due to High Levels of Vitamin D


HomeDog Food Recalls › Fromm Dog Food Recalled Due to High Levels of Vitamin D

October 1, 2021 — Fromm Family Foods of Mequon, Wisconsin, is recalling approximately 5,500 cases of Fromm Shredded Entrée wet dog food due to potentially elevated levels of Vitamin D.

What’s Being Recalled?

The following 4 products are affected by this recall.

Fromm Dog Food Recall Image 1
Fromm Dog Food Recall Image 2
Fromm Dog Food Recall Image 3
Fromm Dog Food Recall Image 4

Product Lot Numbers and Best By Dates

Products are packaged in 12 ounce cans with Best By Date 08/2024. A full list of affected products is below:

  • Four-Star SHREDDED BEEF IN GRAVY ENTRÉE food for dogs, 12 cans per case, 11877
    12 oz. per can
    UPC 7270511876
    Best By Date 082024
  • Four-Star SHREDDED CHICKEN IN GRAVY ENTRÉE food for dogs, 12 cans per case, 11881
    12 oz. per can
    UPC 7270511880
    Best By Date 082024
  • Four-Star SHREDDED PORK IN GRAVY ENTRÉE food for dogs, 12 cans per case, 11879
    12 oz. per can
    UPC 7270511878
    Best By Date 082024
  • Four-Star SHREDDED TURKEY IN GRAVY ENTRÉE food for dogs, 12 cans per case, 11883
    12 oz. per can
    UPC 7270511882
    Best By Date 082024

There are no other Fromm products affected by this recall.

About the Recall

Recalled products were distributed nationwide at neighborhood pet stores.

Potential adverse reactions could occur in all size dogs. No reports of illness or injury have been reported from consumers to date.

However, Fromm management has determined it is prudent to pull these four lots out of distribution.

Fromm Company Statement

“The recall was initiated after we discovered, through our own analysis, that these products may contain elevated levels of Vitamin D.

“We have identified and isolated the error, and in addition to our existing safety process, we have put corrective actions into place to prevent this from happening again.”

This voluntary recall is being made with the knowledge of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

About Vitamin D Toxicity

According to the Food and Drug Administration:

“…extremely high levels of vitamin D can cause serious health problems. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, so unlike water-soluble vitamins, when a dog… gets too much, the excess is not rapidly excreted in his or her urine. Instead, it’s stored in fat tissue and the liver. Excessive vitamin D can lead to kidney failure and even death.”

According to the FDA recall bulletin:

Dogs ingesting elevated levels of Vitamin D may exhibit symptoms such as vomiting, loss of appetite, increased thirst, increased urination, excessive drooling, and weight loss.

Vitamin D when consumed at very high levels can lead to serious health issues in dogs including renal dysfunction.

Consumers who have dogs that have consumed any of the affected products and are exhibiting these symptoms should contact their veterinarian.

What to Do?

Consumers should stop feeding the affected products to their dogs.

Consumers who have purchased Fromm Four-Star Shredded Entrée canned dog food are urged to return the product to their retailer.

Consumers with questions are invited to contact the company at 1-800-325-6331 from Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, Central Time. Or they may contact Fromm at info@frommfamily.com.

U.S. citizens can report complaints about FDA-regulated pet food products by calling the consumer complaint coordinator in your area.

Or go to the FDA’s “Report a Pet Food Complaint” page.

Canadians can report any health or safety incidents related to the use of this product by filling out the Consumer Product Incident Report Form.


Most of the Caribbean is under a ‘Level 4’ travel warning. Islands still want visitors.


Hannah Sampson

As winter approaches and travelers start dreaming of warm weather, the Caribbean beckons. But 19 months into the pandemic, much of the region is struggling with the delta variant surge and insufficient access to coronavirus vaccines.

Late last month, the Pan American Health Organization warned that health systems in some Eastern Caribbean islands were becoming overwhelmed with the increase of cases and shortages of workers and supplies.

The majority of destinations in the Caribbean — as well as Bermuda and the Bahamas —are characterized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as “Level 4” because of very high rates of covid-19, which means the public health agency recommends avoiding travel.

Those countries and territories include such popular spots as Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Aruba, the U.S. Virgin Islands and, as of Monday, Barbados. In all, more than 20 destinations are listed as Level 4.

Another handful — including Anguilla, Bonaire, Turks and Caicos, and Trinidad and Tobago — are Level 3, which means rates of the coronavirus are high and only vaccinated people should visit. Just a few are at the two lowest levels, including the Dominican Republic and Cayman Islands.

“The road to recovery in the region is not smooth,” Neil Walters, acting secretary general of the Caribbean Tourism Organization, said in an emailed statement. “The changes in the health situation and the ever-shifting travel arena could create much turmoil.”

The tourism group said that in the first half of the year, international tourist arrivals to the Caribbean reached 6.6 million — down 12 percent from the first half of 2020, and more than 62 percent from 2019. But some destinations have seen growth.

In the Bahamas, for example, visitation through August increased nearly 50 percent from last year to more than 612,000 as airlines increased service.

I. Chester Cooper, the Bahamas’ deputy prime minister and the minister of tourism, investments and aviation, said in an emailed statement that the country is optimistic that a “robust holiday season” is possible.

“Throughout this pandemic we have had to pivot and evolve to strike the delicate balance between protecting the health and safety of our citizens and visitors and creating opportunities that enable our vital tourism economy to begin recovering,” he said.

That is the balance the entire region has been trying to find as destinations have reopened with a variety of entry procedures.

“In the Caribbean, tourism is our bread and butter, so we really needed to ensure that we are able to keep our borders open,” said Vanessa Ledesma, acting CEO and director general of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association. “Everything we can do to mitigate the impact, we will continue to do so.”

In some countries, that means vaccine requirements, quarantines, mandatory testing, travel insurance coverage — or some combination of those rules. The hotel and tourism association maintains a grid online with various protocols to try to help potential visitors keep track.

“We know it’s been challenging and we have lobbied for harmonization across the region as much as possible,” Ledesma said. “Every destination has different limitations or requirements.”

That can be confusing for travelers who are trying to choose from a region with more than two dozen destinations — and just as many different mandates for entry. That lack of consistency has “added complexity and concern” for clients, said travel adviser Mike Salvadore, of 58 Stars Travel.

“And many clients are concerned that policies will change quickly, and they may be stuck or lose their investment,” he said in an email.

One thing that isn’t really discouraging visitors, Salvadore said: travel advisories. While there was a dip of interest in the summer after Europe’s reopening and during hurricane season, he said interest in the region moving into the fall and holiday period is “robust.”

“Caribbean travel was the first to see a resurgence in early 2021, and while most destinations continue to maintain a level 4 status with the CDC, it hasn’t kept travelers away,” Salvadore wrote.

Within the Caribbean, the foreign travel advisories are viewed with some frustration. Ledesma wrote in September that the industry has gone to great lengths to protect visitors and those who work in the tourism industry.

Clive Landis, who chairs the covid-19 task force at the University of the West Indies in Barbados, said the recent change from Level 3 to 4 in Barbados doesn’t change anything about entry or exit protocols.

“We wonder what the value of it is,” he said.

Landis said the region has been skeptical of the travel warnings, especially when they are applied to countries that have overall low case rates such as Anguilla. More important, he said, is helping those destinations get all the vaccine doses they need.

“I think here in the Caribbean, our record — even now with the surge of the delta variant — is still, in terms of cases per capita … well below the U.S.,” Landis said. “It’s not as if they’re stepping into some kind of a hot spot that they’re not used to in their own country.”