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Energy

The Real Threat to Banks Isn’t From Climate Change. It’s From Bankers.

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22 minute read

Over the last two years, some of the world’s most powerful and influential bankers and investors have argued that climate change poses a grave threat to financial markets and that nations must switch urgently from using fossil fuels to using renewables.

In 2019, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco warned that climate change could cause banks to stop lending, towns to lose tax revenue, and home values to decline. Last year, 36 pension fund managers representing $1 trillion in assets said climate change “poses a systemic threat to financial markets and the real economy.”

And upon taking office, President Joe Biden warned government agencies that climate change disasters threatened retirement funds, home prices, and the very stability of the financial system.

But a major new staff report from the New York Federal Reserve Bank throws cold water on the over-heated rhetoric coming from activist investors, bankers, and politicians. “How Bad Are Weather Disasters for Banks?” asks the title of the report by three economists. “Not very,” they answer in the first sentence of the abstract.

The reason is because “weather disasters over the last quarter century had insignificant or small effects on U.S. banks’ performance.” The study looked at FEMA-level disasters between 1995 and 2018, at county-level property damage estimates, and the impact on banking revenue.

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The New York Fed’s authors only looked at how banks have dealt with disasters in the past, and what they wrote isn’t likely to be the final word on the matter. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and most other scientific bodies predict that many weather events, including hurricanes and floods, which cause the greatest financial damage, are likely to become more extreme in the future, due to climate change.

And in February, The New York Times quoted one of six United States Federal Reserve governors saying, “Financial institutions that do not put in place frameworks to measure, monitor and manage climate-related risks could face outsized losses on climate-sensitive assets caused by environmental shifts.”

But the Fed economists looked separately at the most extreme 10 percent of all disasters and found that banks impacted not only didn’t suffer, “their income increases significantly with exposure,” and that the improved financial performance of banks hit by disasters wasn’t explained by increased federal disaster (FEMA) aid.

In other words, disasters are actually good for banks, since they increase demand for loans. The larger a bank’s exposure to natural disasters, the larger its profits.

Happily, the profits made by banks are trivial compared to rising societal resilience to disasters, which can be seen by the fact that the share of GDP spent on natural disasters has actually declined over the last 30 years.

While scientists expect hurricanes to become five percent more extreme they also expect them to become 25 percent less frequent, and now, new data showglobal carbon emissions actually declined over the last decade, and thus there is no longer any serious risk of a significant rise in global temperatures.

Banking Against Growth

Biden nominee Saule Omarova said she wants to bankrupt energy companies

The real risk to banks and the global economy comes from climate policy, not climate change, particularly efforts to make energy more expensive and less reliable through the greater use of renewables, new taxes, and new regulations.

“For policymakers,” warned the three economists writing for the New York Fed, “our findings suggest that potential transition risks from climate change warrant more attention than physical disaster risks.”

While they may seem like outliers, they are far from alone in expressing their concern. The second half of the quote by the Fed governor about climate change, which was hyped by The New York Times, warned that banks “could face outsized losses” from the “transition to a low-carbon economy.” (My emphasis.)

And, now concern is growing among members of Congress about the dangers of over-relying on weather-dependent energy, with some members citing the New York Fed’s report after The Wall Street Journal editorialized about it last week .

Proof of the threat to the economy from climate policy is the worst global energy crisis in 50 years. Shareholder activists played a significant role in creating it, according to analysts at Goldman Sachs, Bloomberg, and The Financial Times, by reducing investment in oil and gas production, and causing nations to over-invest in unreliable solar and wind energies, which has driven up energy prices, and contributed significantly to inflation.

And yet a crucial Biden Administration nominee for bank regulation has openly said she would like to bankrupt firms that produce oil and gas, the two fuels whose scarcity is causing the global energy crisis. Progressive academic, Saule Omarova, nominated by Biden, said recently that “we want [oil and gas firms] to go bankrupt” and that “the way we basically get rid of these carbon financiers is we starve them of their source of capital.

Omarova is not an outlier. The Biden Administration’s Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) is advocating 30 new climate regulations that should be imposed on banking. Many analysts believe the US Securities and Exchange Commission will require new regulations. The goal is to radically alter how America’s banks lend money, the energy sector, and the economy as a whole.

And former Bank of England chief, Mark Carney, co-chair of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero, has organized $130 trillion in investment and said recently that his investors should expect to make higher, not lower, returns than the market. How? In the exact same way Omarova predicted: by bankrupting some companies, and financing other ones, through government regulations and subsidies.

Carney created the Glasgow Financial Alliance, or GFANZ, with Michael Bloomberg, and they did so under the official seal of the United Nations. “Carney said the alliance will put global finance on a trajectory that ultimately leaves high-carbon assets facing a much bleaker future,” wrote a reporter with Bloomberg. “He also said investors in such products will see the value of their holdings sink.”

What’s going on, exactly? How is it that some of the world’s most powerful bankers, and the politicians they finance, came to support policies that threaten the stability of electrical grids, energy supplies, and thus the global economy itself?

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The Unseen Order

Tom Steyer, Michael Bloomberg, and George Soros

Three of the largest donors to climate change causes are billionaire financial titans Michael Bloomberg, George Soros, and Tom Steyer, all of whom have significant investments in both renewables and fossil fuels.

Soros is worth $8 billion and recently made large investments in natural gas firms (EQT) and electric vehicles (Fisker), Bloomberg has a net worth of around $70 billion and has large investments in natural gas and renewables, and much of Steyer’s wealth derives from investments in all three main fossil fuels—coal, oil, and natural gas — as well as renewables.

All three men finance climate activists and politicians, including President Biden, who then seek policies — from $500 billion for renewables and electric vehicles over the next decade to federal control over state energy systems to banking regulations to bankrupt oil and gas companies — which would benefit each of them personally.

Bloomberg gave over $100 million to Sierra Club to lobby to shut down coal plants after he had taken a large stake in its replacement, natural gas, and operates one of the largest news media companies in the world, which publishes articles and sends emails nearly every day reporting that climate change threatens the economy, and that solar panels and wind turbines are the only cost-effective solution.

Soros donates heavily to Center for American Progress, whose founder, John Podesta, was chief of staff to Bill Clinton, campaign chairman for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, and who currently runs policy at the Biden White House. So too does Steyer, who funds the climate activist organization founded by New Yorker author Bill McKibben, 350.org, which reported revenues of nearly $20 million in 2018.

The most influential environmental organization among Democrats and the Biden Administration is the Natural Resources Defense Council, NRDC, which advocated for federal control of state energy markets, the $500 billion for electric cars and renewables, and international carbon markets that would be controlled by the bankers and financiers who also donate to it.

In the 1990s, NRDC helped energy trading company Enron to distribute hundreds of thousands of dollars to environmental groups. “On environmental stewardship, our experience is that you can trust Enron,” said NRDC’s Ralph Cavanagh in 1997, even though Enron executives at the time were defrauding investors of billions of dollars in an epic criminal conspiracy, which in 2001 bankrupted the company.

From 2009 to 2011, NRDC advocated for and helped write complex cap-and-trade climate legislation that would have created and allowed some of their donors to take advantage of a carbon-trading market worth upwards of $1 trillion.

NRDC created and invested $66 million of its own money in a BlackRock stock fund that invested heavily in natural gas companies, and in 2014 disclosed that it had millions invested in renewable funds.

Former NRDC head, Gina McCarthey, now heads up Biden’s climate policy team, and Biden’s top economic advisor, Brian Deese, last worked at BlackRock, and almost certainly will return at the end of the Biden Administration.

Money buys influence. In 2019, McKibben called Steyer a “climate champ” when Steyer announced he was running for president, adding that Steyer’s “just-released climate policy is damned good!” And in 2020, McKibben wrote an article called, “How Banks Could Bail Us Out of the Climate Crisis,” for The New Yorker, which repeated the claim that extreme weather created by climate change threatens financial interests, and that the way to prevent it is to divert public and private money away from reliable energy sources toward weather-dependent ones.

Forms filed to the Internal Revenue Service by Steyer’s philanthropic organization, the TomKat Charitable Trust, show that it gave McKibben’s climate activist group, 350.org, $250,000 in 2012, 2014, and 2015, and may have given money to 350.org in 2013, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020, as well, because 350.org thanked either Steyer’s philanthropy, TomKat Foundation, or his organization, NextGen America, in each of its annual reports since 2013.

At the same time, McKibben’s motivations are plainly spiritual. He claims that various natural disasters are caused by humans, that climate change literally threatens life on Earth, and is thus “greatest challenge humans have ever faced,” a statement so unhinged from reality, considering declining deaths from disasters, declining carbon emissions, and the total absence of any science for such a claim, that it must be considered religious.

McKibben first book about climate change, The End of Nature, explicitly expressed his spiritual views, arguing that, through capitalist industrialization, humankind had lost its connection to nature. “We can no longer imagine that we are part of something larger than ourselves,” he wrote in The End of Nature. “That is what this all boils down to.” Indeed, for William James, the belief in “an unseen order” that we must adjust ourselves to, in order to avoid future punishment, is a defining feature of religion.

Climate change is punishment for our sins against nature — that’s the basic narrative pushed by journalists, climate activists, and their banker sponsors, for 30 years. It has a supernatural element: the belief that natural disasters are getting worse, killing millions, and threatening the economy, when in reality they are getting better, killing fewer, and costing less. And it offers redemption: to avoid punishment we must align our behavior with the unseen order, namely, a new economy controlled by the U.N., bankers, and climate activists. Unfortunately, as is increasingly obvious, the unseen order is parasitical and destructive.

When Nuclear Leads, the Bankers Will Follow

Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emanuel Macron, and U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm

The unseen order of bankers, climate activists, and the news media is so powerful that it is difficult to imagine how it could ever be challenged.

The financial might of the climate lobby covers the wealth not only of billionaires Soros, Steyer, and Bloomberg, but also $130 trillion in investment funds, including many of the world’s largest pension funds, such as the one belonging to California public employees. The climate lobby’s political power is equally awesome, covering the entirety of the Democratic Party and a significant portion of the Republican Party, and most center-Left parties in Europe.

And all of that is sustained by cultural power, which has led many elites to view climate change as the world’s number one issue, has convinced half of all humans that climate change will make our species extinct, and has served as the apocalyptic foundation for Woke religion.

But serious cracks in the foundation are growing. The global energy crisis has revealed for many around the world the limits of unreliable renewables, with European governments having to subsidize energy to avoid public backlash, President Biden and other heads of state opening up emergency petroleum reserves, and all nations begging OPEC to produce more energy.

The blackouts and rising unreliability of electricity in California, along with the work of the pro-nuclear movement over the last 6 years, has resulted in a growing number of Democrats supporting nuclear energy. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm last week publicly urged California Governor Gavin Newsom not to close California’s Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, the signature nuclear plant Environmental Progress has been trying to save since 2016. Democratic support in particular for nuclear is growing.

And alternative media including Substack, podcasts, and social media platforms are increasingly providing a counterweight to the mainstream news media, exposing a huge number of issues that the media got wrong in recent years, and amplifying alternative voices.

Nowhere is the change occurring faster than in Europe, where energy shortages are affecting heating, cooking, and electricity supplies in ways that undermine the legitimacy of the banker-led climate efforts. In Britain, private energy companies have gone bankrupt, forcing the government to bail them out. For-profit energy companies, like banks, ultimately depend on taxpayers, who are also voters.

Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who led her nation’s exit from nuclear energy, acknowledged that Germany had been defeated in its anti-nuclear energy advocacy at the European Union level, and that nuclear would finally be recognized as low-carbon.

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And French president Emanuel Macron, under pressure from the political right as voters look to elections next year, gave a passionate speech in favor of nuclear energy last month, announcing $35 billion for new reactors.

As the world returns to nuclear, policymakers, media elites, and climate advocates will be increasingly confronted with the question of why consumers and taxpayers will benefit from a global carbon trading scheme and more weather-dependent renewables, particularly at a time of declining global emissions from the continuing transition from coal to natural gas, reduced deforestation, and increased reforestation.

Simply building more nuclear power plants means there is no climate change justification for weather-dependent renewables, which actually require greater use of natural gas, in order to deal with the high amount of unreliability.

Nuclear power goes with slow and patient capital. The obvious funders of a nuclear expansion in the West would be the pension funds, which need the secure return on investment that major construction and infrastructure projects provide, and which unreliable renewables, as the energy crisis shows, do not.

And though the news media is currently ignoring the New York Fed’s report, reporters will not be able to continue spreading misinformation about climate change indefinitely. Increasingly, they, and thus policymakers and the public, will be forced to confront facts inconvenient to their narrative, including that humans are adapting remarkably well to climate change, that renewables make energy unreliable and expensive, and that only nuclear can achieve sustainability goals of reduced emissions, material throughput, and land use.

As people ask, “How Bad Are Weather Disasters?”, not just for banks, but for all of us, the answer will increasingly come back, “Not very.”

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Economy

Oil Lobby Working With Republicans Behind-The-Scenes To Push ‘Gateway’ To Carbon Tax

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From the Daily Caller News Foundation

By NICK POPE

 

America’s leading oil and gas trade group is working behind the scenes with moderate House Republicans to push support for a bill that critics say could lead to a domestic carbon tax, according to an email obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation and sources familiar with the matter.

On May 14, Chris Boness, the director of federal relations for the American Petroleum Institute (API), sent an email to an API mailing list that named several House lawmakers intending to co-sponsor the PROVE IT Act alongside Republican Utah Rep. John Curtis. The trade group has also met with staffers to try to secure support for the bill, which API supports, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Assuming the House version is the same as the already-introduced Senate version, the bill would instruct the Department of Energy (DOE) to study the carbon intensity of goods — including aluminum, steel, plastic and crude oil — produced in the U.S. and the carbon intensity of products from other countries, according to E&E News.

Dozens of the PROVE IT Act’s critics have described the bill as a possible “gateway” to domestic carbon taxes because it would effectively instruct the federal government to calculate an implicit cost of carbon with few restrictions on how that official metric is used in the future.

“Thanks for those that joined today’s meeting,” Boness wrote in the email obtained by the DCNF. “Here is the list of current [Republican] cosponsors of the PROVE IT Act: Curtis, [Michigan Rep. Tim] Walburg (sic), [Ohio Rep. Bob] Latta, [New York Rep. Andrew] Garbarino, [Florida Rep. Maria Elvira] Salazar, [Michigan Rep. Mariannette] Miller-Meeks, [Indiana Rep. Larry] Bucshon, [Oregon Rep. Lori] Chavez-DeRemer. Additionally, [Georgia Rep. Buddy] Carter, [New York Rep. Mike] Lawler and [Pennsylvania Rep. Dan] Meuser seemed interested. Will keep you updated if others join and send updates on introduction.”

API representatives have had meetings addressing the PROVE IT Act with lawmakers’ offices, sources familiar with the matter told the DCNF. The offices of Curtis, Walberg, Latta, Garbarino, Salazar, Miller-Meeks, Bucshon and Chavez-DeRemer did not respond to questions about why they apparently support the bill.

Carbon pricing is broadly unpopular with Republicans, according to E&E News. Generally, polling indicates that Republicans do not consider climate change to be a problem in need of major government-led solutions and that energy affordability, for example, is a much stronger concern.

API Email re: PROVE IT Act by Nick Pope on Scribd

 

The bill’s proponents tout it as a measure to reward American companies for producing products more cleanly than foreign competitors, but opponents are strongly concerned that the bill instructs the federal government to effectively set a price on carbon with insufficient restrictions what the government can do in the future.

Notably, Republican West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito introduced an amendment to the Senate version that would prevent the data collected from being used as the basis for carbon taxes or tariffs, but Democrats killed that proposal while the bill sat in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Despite concerns from those opposed to the bill that it could be a first step to carbon taxes or tariffs, API supports the PROVE IT Act. Notably, API is in favor of carbon pricing.

“America’s oil and natural gas is produced under some of the highest environmental standards in the world,” a spokesperson for API told the DCNF. “Efforts like the PROVE IT Act are bipartisan opportunities to help study and quantify that advantage and demonstrate our industry’s commitment to producing cleaner, safer, and more affordable energy here at home while still supplying the energy our world needs.”

Some of the lawmakers API suggested could be interested in co-sponsoring the PROVE IT Act are wary, however.

Rep. Meuser, whose district includes energy-rich parts of Pennsylvania, is opposed to the bill as it stands, despite API’s suggestion that he is potentially interested in supporting it, a source familiar with Meuser’s thinking told the DCNF.

Rep. Carter is skeptical of policies that could lead to a carbon tax.

“Mr. Carter is reviewing the legislation,” a spokesperson for Carter told the DCNF. “He is absolutely opposed to anything that could lead to a carbon tax.”

In the eyes of those opposed to the bill, the PROVE IT Act would make it easier for a second-term Biden administration to pursue carbon taxes or tariffs that would hurt American consumers and certain types of energy producers.

“Our opposition to the PROVE IT Act is clear and concise. The latest attempt by some in Congress who are trying to create a structure that would lead to a domestic carbon tax will have price implications on our energy, particularly our fuel,” Tom Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance, told the DCNF. “I do think that it is important to recognize that John Podesta made it clear that this is a second term agenda item for the Biden administration. And why would any Republican want to be the lead on helping President Biden further his war on affordable energy?”

Mike McKenna, a GOP strategist with extensive experience in the energy sector, expressed a similar view.

“The big problem with the bill is that it creates infrastructure to impose a carbon dioxide tax,” McKenna told the DCNF. “As everyone who has had more than ten seconds of exposure to the federal government knows, once that infrastructure can be put in place, it’s going to be used.”

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Energy

Tech giants’ self-made AI energy crisis

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For years tech giants have been helping climate catastrophists shut down reliable fossil fuel electricity. Now the grid they’ve helped gut cannot possibly supply their growing AI needs.

For years tech giants have been helping climate catastrophists shut down reliable fossil fuel electricity, falsely claiming they can be replaced by solar/wind.

Now the grid they’ve helped gut can’t supply their growing AI needs.¹

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  • For the last decade, tech giants such as Apple, Microsoft, Meta, and Google have, through dedicated anti-fossil-fuel propaganda and political efforts, promoted the shutdown of reliable fossil fuel power plants in favor of unreliable solar and wind.
    Image
  • Tech giants have propagandized against reliable fossil fuel power plants by falsely claiming to be “100% renewable” and implying everyone could do it. In fact, they have just paid utilities to credit them for others’ solar and wind use and blame others for their coal and gas use.²
  • In addition to their “100% renewable” propaganda, tech giants directly endorsed people and policies who shut down reliable fossil fuel power plants.E.g., The RE100 coalition, including Google, Apple, Meta, and Microsoft, advocates for policies to “accelerate change towards zero carbon grids at scale by 2040.”³
  • Companies’ propaganda that solar/wind could rapidly replace fossil fuels has proven false. 

    Statewide blackouts in California (2020) and Texas (2021) were caused by the failure of solar/wind—which can go near zero at any time—to make up for lack of reliable fossil fuel capacity.

  • Thanks in significant part to tech giants’ advocacy, we have now shut down enough reliable power plants to be in a nationwide electricity crisis. 

    For example, most of North America is at elevated/high risk of electricity shortfalls between 2024-2028.⁴

  • The anti-fossil-fuel, pro-unreliable solar and wind political climate that tech giants have fostered is getting much worse, as the Administration has pledged to further reduce reliable electricity supply via power plant shutdowns and add artificial demand through EV mandates.

    Biden’s EV mandate: a dictatorial attack on the American driver and the US grid

    ·
    APR 22
    Biden's EV mandate: a dictatorial attack on the American driver and the US grid
     

    Biden’s de facto mandate of over 50% EVs by 2032 is a dictatorial attack on the American driver and the US grid that will 1. Force Americans to drive inferior cars. 2. Place massive new demand for reliable electricity on a grid that is declining in reliable electricity supply.

     

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  • While for years tech giants didn’t seem to have any concern about the electricity supply disaster their propaganda and policies were bringing about, they are now very interested because of the accelerating power requirements of computing, above all the hyper-competitive AI space.
  • To function at its potential, AI requires massive amounts of power. E.g., state-of-the-art data centers can require as much electricity as a large nuclear reactor.⁵
  • Electricity demand from US data centers already doubled between 2014 and 2023. Now with the fast growth of energy-hungry AI, demand from data centers could triple from 2.5% to 7.5% of our electricity use by 2030, according to Boston Consulting Group.⁶
  • In large part due to AI, nationwide electricity demand is projected to skyrocket. Official 10-year projections for the US have summer and winter peak demand rising by over 79 gigawatt and over 90 gigawatt. 90 gigawatt is equivalent to adding the entire power generating capacity of California (!)⁷
  • Given the woeful underpowered grid that AI giants have helped bring about, dramatically rising demand from AI will not only contribute to massive electricity shortages, but it will also destroy a lot of potential for AI to occur in the United States.
  • Limited and expensive electricity will force data centers to operate with higher cost or lower capacity within the US—or take a performance hit in the form of increased latency (which can drastically reduce the value of the product) by moving offshore.
  • Not only is offshoring data centers destructive from an economic standpoint, it also poses a substantial security risk. E.g., Building a data center in China—which we already depend on dangerously for critical minerals—gives the CCP physical power over more parts of our economy.
  • Economically, data centers are a gold mine of opportunities.Globally, data centers employed 2M people full-time in 2019, many in high-skill/high-pay jobs—and this number is forecast to increase nearly 300K by 2025.

    Our gutted grid will cost many Americans these opportunities.⁸

  • In the face of woefully inadequate electricity supply for their AI goals, tech giant CEOs are finally speaking up about the lack of power. 

    E.g., Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in an interview that energy will be the #1 bottleneck to AI progress.

  • It is not enough for tech giants to warn us about the lack of reliable power. They need to take responsibility for their anti-fossil-fuel advocacy that helped caused it. And they need to support energy freedom policies that allow all fuels to compete to provide reliable power. 

    End preferences for unreliable electricity

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    DECEMBER 14, 2022
    End preferences for unreliable electricity
     

    Today’s grids are being ruined by systemic preferences for unreliable electricity: 1) no price penalty for being unreliable 2) huge subsidies for unreliables 3) mandates for unreliables Congress should end these now. The Opportunity America, given its combination of abundant domestic energy resources, technological ingenuity, and free-market competition, has …

     

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  • An example of a tech giant influencer not taking any responsibility for causing the electricity crisis is BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, who pushed companies and governments to adopt “net-zero” policies using mostly solar/wind, but now admits they can’t power AI data centers!
  • A better attitude toward electricity was expressed by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman: “There will always be people who wait and sit around and say ‘we shouldn’t do AI because we may burn a little more carbon’… the anti-progress streak” and this “is something that we can all fight against.”⁹
  • America faces a choice. We can either continue our current trajectory, descend into a Third World grid, and become totally inhospitable for AI, or we can adopt energy freedom policies and become a world leader in both AI and electricity.
  • Share this article with tech giant CEOs and tell them to publicly apologize for damaging our grid and to commit to energy freedom policies.Google: @sundarpichai ([email protected])
    Apple: @tim_cook ([email protected])
    Meta: @finkd ([email protected])
    Microsoft: @satyanadella ([email protected])

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Michelle Hung contributed to this piece.

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