I speculated this month somewhat idly on whether the UK or US energy secretary would be the first to quit his post. Many in the gossipy world of Westminster politics are betting on an imminent departure of Chris Huhne. But after one of the stormiest weekends of his political life, it is difficult to say whether he is now stronger or weaker.
The story that might yet kill Huhne’s political career, at least in the short term, is entirely non energy-related. Police are considering whether to investigate claims that he asked another person to take driving penalty points on his behalf for a speeding offence. He denies any wrongdoing.
Tepco president Masataka Shimizu
The news last week that the Japanese government was close to agreeing a bailout plan for Tepco, the electricity company that owns the Fukushima nuclear plant, should have come as a relief for the company and its debt holders.
But the opposite appears to be true. Amid uncertainty over the structure of the bailout and when it might finally be agreed, Moody’s has taken the proactive step of downgrading the company’s debt, saying that the plan as it looks so far actually increases the risk of a default.
The clause that particularly seems to trouble the ratings agency is the one that Tepco will only be insured for compensation payments of up to Y120bn. Anything above that limit will be the company’s liability.