10/22/2012 07:58 am ET

Let's Make An Energy Deal: Seven And A Half Things To Know

Thing One: Pure Energy: Just in time for tonight's final presidential debate about foreign policy, this morning we got some stark reminders of what has been screwing up foreign relations for decades past and will keep screwing them up for decades to come: Energy.

British oil behemoth BP is just about to announce a deal to sell its 50 percent stake in TNK-BP, Russia's third-largest oil company, to Kremlin-controlled Rosneft, Russia's largest oil company, for about $25 billion, Reuters writes. The deal will end one long, stormy relationship for BP -- at one point, BP's current CEO had to flee Russia after a dispute with his TNK partners -- and begin another one. BP will end up with a smaller toehold in Russia, with possibly a 20 percent stake in Rosneft and a couple of board seats, but will have closer ties to the Kremlin. The deal marks a big step in Vladimir Putin's efforts to regain control of Russia's energy sector, the Wall Street Journal notes. Russia was the world's top oil and natural gas producer in 2011. It gave its energy sector away to various oligarchs in the 1990s, but Putin has been steadily taking it back. This should end well.

On the other side of the world, Canada has its own huge energy reserves, with foreign companies clamoring for a taste. And though Canada is a bit more on the right side of freedom than Russia, it also seems to be learning how to raise walls to foreign involvement. Canada's government this weekend rejected a $5 billion takeover bid of Progress Energy Resources by a Malaysia's state energy company Petronas, the WSJ writes. The news is a worry for China, whose state-owned Cnooc has made a $15 billion bid for another Canadian energy company, Nexen. The WSJ writes that Canada has until recently been unusually welcoming to Chinese investment in its energy sector. That may be changing.

The Middle East for decades has been a key focus of U.S. foreign policy, because of energy, and it will be a focus of tonight's debate. Mitt Romney will likely repeat his charge that President Obama's Middle East policy is a failure or something because there is violence in the region, as there has been for centuries. Today's unrest is partly the result of U.S. energy policy that propped up dictators throughout the region so we could keep getting sweet, sweet oil. The world is even more complicated now, but energy is still the unifying theme, notes Quartz's Steve LeVine, citing a recent speech by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. You may hear a lot about energy independence at tonight's debate, but the U.S. will never dodge the effects of the global struggle for resources. Energy and the related issue that everybody is terrified to discuss, apparently -- climate change -- will dominate geopolitics for the next century, even if they don't get discussed much tonight.

Thing Two: How's Europe Annoying Us Now? Wall Street generally thinks the European debt crisis is all but solved, thanks to the European Central Bank's promise to print money and buy up troubled sovereign debt. But the European Union's woes are far from over. The continent still has until December to get all of its nations to agree on a seven-year budget plan. We're sure that will go awesomely well! How's it going so far? So far, so good: The only major disagreement is between Germany and the U.K., with Angela Merkel warning David Cameron not to sabotage the entire budget process with a veto. So, no worries.

Thing Three: No Sony For You: Speaking of global harmony, Japanese exports to China tumbled 14 percent last month as a result of the spat between the two nations over a couple of teensy islands in the East China Sea, the Wall Street Journal writes. China's government, meanwhile, is considering some major reforms to the country's economy, Reuters writes -- although the urge for reform could fade if China's recently sluggish economy were to suddenly rebound. But of course a rebound would be good news for Japan and the rest of the world -- without it, China might not avoid a crippling Japan-style property bust, Reuters notes.

Thing Four: Watch The Caterpillar: One key sign of the health of the global economy could be today's earnings report from heavy-equipment maker Caterpillar, the Wall Street Journal's Spencer Jakab writes. Caterpillar's fate is increasingly tied to the health of China, in particular demand for mined materials. A downbeat earnings report could be a sign that demand is flagging in a significant way, Jakab writes.

Thing Five: Tax Us, Please, We're Rich: Taxes are a big issue in this (and every) election, with Obama wanting to raise taxes on the wealthy and Romney and his fellow Republicans shockingly wanting to not do that. But even more shockingly, Reuters has managed to find a couple of investors who are willing to pay higher taxes if it helps fix the deficit.

Thing Six: British Bank Gets Radical, Cuts Pay: Just as it is un-American to ask rich people to pay more, it is also un-American to ask bankers to make less, even if their exorbitant pay helped wreck the global economy. But in Europe and the U.K. they have fewer such qualms: British bank Lloyds is considering some radical reforms to its bonus system, the Financial Times writes.

Thing Seven: Armstrong Stripped: Lance Armstrong has been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles by the International Cycling Union, the latest episode in Armstrong's stunning fall from grace.

Thing Seven And One Half: Hack-O-Lantern: From BuzzFeed, 11 extremely useful tips for carving up your pumpkin.

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Heard On The Tweets:

@EddyElfenbein: Greg Smith "When I became a barber, I had no idea it was all about cutting hair."

@ReformedBroker: Greg Smith readies "Why I Left Quiznos" for a 2017 release.

@realDonaldTrump: Yes--I will be live tweeting during the final debate this coming Monday.

@TimAeppel: Friday thought: They're call "golf umbrellas," not "crowded city sidewalk umbrellas," for a reason.

@robdelaney: When I was a kid, Sunday was my least favorite day of the week. But now that I’m an adult I know they’re all horrible.

And you can follow me on Twitter, too: @markgongloff



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