By Eric Peters, CIO of One River Asset Management
Kishida’s cabinet formally adopted a policy to extend the life of its nuclear plants beyond the self-imposed sixty-year limit. Japan’s engineers had originally put a cap in place for all sorts of safety-related reasons. But times change, risks change, societies too.
With the Ukraine war reshaping the global energy map, Japanese memories of energy shortages in the run up to WWII apparently outweigh more recent scars from Fukushima.
And besides, when you count sixty years in the life of a nuclear power plant, you probably shouldn’t count the time it was turned off for maintenance. Right? It’s odd that the engineers who counted sixty in the first place overlooked that. But whatever. If you strip out the years these nuclear reactors were on vacation, you can extend their sixty-year life to seventy. Presto. New capacity.
Japan also announced $152bln in green transformation bonds to build new nukes, renewables, etc. Kishida’s government announced that $1.14trln in public/private investment will be needed over the coming decade.
But Japan was not alone, of course. Macron is trying to extend the life of France’s work force past the age of sixty-two. Apparently, when the policy was first implemented, French engineers failed to take into consideration maintenance and vacation time. Were you to add this downtime back in, the productive life of a French worker would extend to something north of a century.
But unlike Japan’s nuclear reactors, French workers can strike and vote, so Macron sought only an extra two years. Hundreds of thousands are now striking, which if properly counted would push out the work life of a French worker another ten years.
And these are the sorts of manipulations that will be more common now that the world is transitioning from decades of financial over-engineering to a world of squeezing scarce resources out of a globalized economy that was over-optimized for peak profitability.
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