It's a falling chain of energy dominoes—one in which each tile is worth many billions of euros. A failed utility here, a nation's energy supply there. When the dust settles, the total bill for rescuing the European energy market this winter will easily top US$200 billion.

This may sound flippant, and it's admittedly a rough estimate. But the calculus is conservative and based on what we know today. It doesn't cover the worst-case scenario of both Russia fully shutting down natural gas supply to Europe and a colder-than-average winter.

Very few politicians seem to grasp the magnitude of the coming crisis and its prospective costs, with Emmanuel Macron of France and Olaf Scholz of Germany being among the only ones that appear to get it now. (The rest, in many cases, remain distracted by domestic politics.) The European Union (EU) has called for an emergency meeting of energy ministers later this month. But this should precede a larger heads-of-government summit focused on energy before the summer break.

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