Monday, July 4, 2011

Letter to George Mason University re: Jon Entine's post-Natural Gas "Bubble" Report: Market Tinkering or Shoddy Reporting?

Dear Sir or Madam,

Jon Entine has posted an article called "Natural Gas "Bubble" Report: Market Tinkering or Shoddy Reporting?"(http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2011/07/01/natural_gas_bubble_report_market_tinkering_or_shoddy_reporting.html) in which he represents himself as a staff member and representative of George Mason University. At the end of his post he identifies himself as "directing the Genetic Literacy Project and as a senior fellow at STATS and the Center for Health and Risk Communications at George Mason University."

His post contains errors, exaggerations and untrue statements that cannot be substantiated, and thereby jeopardize George Mason University's legal position and reputation as an honest broker of information.

I demand that Mr. Entine post public corrections to the many incorrect and unsubstantiated claims that he makes in this post. I further request that he write to me directly acknowledging that his post contained the many incorrect and undocumented claims that I specify below. He never contacted me or my clients to verify these claims and, apparently, did no research to document his many specious allegations.

My work with Indiana Gasification (IG) as an expert witness is a common and legitimate role for experienced oil and gas experts. I demand that he state in his correction that there is nothing unusual about my relationship as a paid expert witness for IG or any other entity.

I demand that he correct the statement that my testimony was about "buying natural gas made from coal instead of hydraulic fracturing." My written and oral testimony is on public record for anyone to read. I did not discuss coal or hydraulic fracturing in my written or oral testimony before the Indiana Electric Utility Commission (IEUC). My testimony was about natural gas supply, demand and price expectations. I demand that he explains in his correction that my testimony contained no statements about "buying natural gas made from coal instead of hydraulic fracturing."

His statement, "The coal industry fears getting crushed by the cleaner, natural gas movement, and Berman backed coal" is speculation by him, and does not reflect testimony that I gave to the IEUC.

I did not make this statement and did not comment in my written or oral testimony about the concerns of the coal industry concerning natural gas. I did not "back coal" and I demand that he corrects this mis-representation. I demand that he states in his correction that my testimony contained no statements that "The coal industry fears getting crushed by the cleaner, natural gas movement, and Berman backed coal."

Mr. Entine writes that I have a direct conflict of interest with Middlefield Capital in Toronto, and claims that I am compensated as a shale gas skeptic. My role with The Middlefield Group (Middlefield) is founded in a contract to conduct client presentations as well as television, newspaper and other media interviews that provide my analysis of oil and gas supply, demand and price trends.

My contractual relationship with Middlefield involves a quarterly retainer payment, and I receive no compensation other than this. I receive no direction from Middlefield on the topics of my quarterly presentations, and have never featured an "anti-shale gas investment outlook" in my association with Middlefield and its clients.

I demand that he corrects the statement "Berman not only has an indirect financial interest playing the role of shale gas skeptic, he has a direct conflict of interest."

I demand that he explains in his correction that I have no financial interest playing the role of a shale gas skeptic in my relationship with Middlefield. I demand that he explains in his correction that I have no direct or indirect conflict of interest in my relationship with Middlefield.

I demand that he explains in his correction that I receive no compensation from Middlefield other than a fixed quarterly fee, and that I receive no direction from Middlefield on the subjects of my quarterly presentations to their clients.

He states that "Berman is reportedly also a consultant and paid speaker with the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC)."

I gave a paid talk in July 2010 for CIBC and have no other business relationship with that organization. I demand that he corrects the statement that "Berman is reportedly also a consultant and paid speaker with the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce." I demand that he explains in his correction that I have no business relationship with CIBC beyond the paid presentation that I made in July 2010.

He states that "Moreover, if any of their clients, or indeed the fund managers at Middlefield, knew that the Times story was coming out, they could face charges of market manipulation under Canadian and U.S. securities law." I never told Middlefield or any other entity that the New York Times article was going to be published. I did not have advanced access to the New York Times article and did not read the article until its publication on June 26, 2011 when I bought a copy of the newspaper.

I demand that in his correction he explains that I did not tell Middlefield or any other entity that the New York Times article was going to be published. I further demand that he explains in his correction that I or Middlefield do not face charges of market manipulation under Canadian and U.S. securities law.

He wrote "Did Berman tell his strategic partners and clients, and directly profit from the Times story? Did Middlefield's funds or clients or CIBC's clients with knowledge of the Times’ piece hold short interest in shale stocks or long interest in competitors' stocks? Did the Canadian oil sands industry, which includes Middlefield Capital, seek to influence the U.S. fracking debate, which could be a potential violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act? Did Middlefield's funds or clients or CIBC's clients have short interest in shale stocks ahead of the Times report? Is the Times' key source dealing in inside information?"

I demand that he corrects the statement implying that I profited from the New York Times article. I have not. I demand that he explains in his correction that I did not tell my clients about the New York Times article. I demand that he explains in his correction that neither my partners, clients nor I profited from the New York Times story. I demand that he explains in his correction that I had no knowledge of any clients' interests in stock positions. I demand that he explains in his correction that I gave no advice about oil sands or any other investment to any client.

I demand that he correct the statement that states that I gave Middlefield's fund or clients or CIBC or CIBC's clients information that resulted in them taking short positions with knowledge of the New York Times article since I did not tell them about the New York Times article, and am unaware of any positions that Middlefield or CIBC have, and have had no contact with CIBC in this regard since my paid presentation one year ago.

I demand that in his correction that he explains that I did not give Middlefield any information about any position that they may have on any investment based on any statement that I made about the New York Times article.

I demand that he corrects the incorrect statement that I influenced Middlefield on the Canadian oil sands industry or the U.S. "fracking debate."

I demand that he explains in his correction that I gave no information or advice to Middlefield about Canadian oil sands or hydraulic fracturing although, as a general case, providing advice for a fee as an energy expert is appropriate and legitimate.

I look forward to the publication of these corrections and explanations.


All the best,


Arthur E. Berman

10 comments:

remontismeta.ru said...

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Anonymous said...

George Mason University, of which Jon Entine is connected, is also connected to the funders and staff of the National Law & Policy Center headed by Peter Flaherty & Ken Boehm.

The Scaife Foundation, which is as influential as the Koch family in conservative politics, provides funding to NLPC & George Mason.

It is no surprise that Jon Entine has launched an attack on Mr. Berman. There is no academic freedom when conservatives fund academia - see the case of the business school named chair at FSU and Koch, all papers must be approved by Koch before publication.

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