Beijing wins battle for blue skies — but the poor are paying a price

One year ago, China’s capital city was in the grip of suffocating and potentially fatal smog that made life a misery and breathing downright dangerous. This month, the air in Beijing has been clear and the skies blue. Favorable wind and weather have played a part, but this is no fluke. Last year as a whole, Beijing recorded its largest improvement in air quality on record. The average concentration of tiny “PM2.5” particulates fell by more than 20 percent, according to Greenpeace East Asia. In a mad dash to meet year-end air pollution targets and combat the traditional winter smog, 5,600 environmental inspectors were hired from around the country and dispatched into the industrial heartland surrounding the capital. Tens of thousands of polluting factories were forced to clean up their operations or were simply closed, […]

Is A “Geopolitical Recession” Looming?

5 Jan 2018   Economy

Eurasia Group’s Ian Bremmer says that 2018 is “by far the greatest geopolitical risk environment that we’ve ever seen” and that this could be the year where the international community witnesses the geopolitical equivalent to the financial crisis. With the Dow Jones Industrial Average nearing 25,000 and the pace of economic growth in the U.S. climbing back above 3%, the economy has seldom been in better shape since the crisis – a fact that President Trump never misses an opportunity to highlight. However, lingering geopolitical tensions that have been simmering for years finally came to a head in 2017. The result? The U.S. is now mired in what Bremmer calls “a geopolitical recession.” Put simply, this means the decline of U.S. influence in the world will accelerate in 2018, as the US’s mix of soft power and economic and political liberalism faces a crisis of credibility. Meanwhile, some of […]

Global economic growth in 2018 on track to be fastest since 2011

1 Jan 2018   Economy

The global economy is set to grow by almost 4% in 2018 in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms, adding an extra $5 trillion to global output at current values, according to new projections in PwC’s Global Economy Watch. The main engines of the global economy – the US, emerging Asia and the Eurozone – are expected to contribute almost 70% of economic growth in 2018 compared to their post-2000 average of around 60%. Growth in the Eurozone is predicted to be above 2% in 2018, as PwC expects the peripheral economies to outpace the core for the fifth consecutive year. Of the larger Eurozone economies, the Netherlands is expected to lead the way with economic growth at around 2.5%. By contrast, uncertainty relating to Brexit is expected to drag on UK growth, which is predicted to be 1.4% in 2018. Barret Kupelian, senior economist at PwC, comments: ‘In 2018, […]

China blasts two provinces for deception in environment fight

27 Dec 2017   China, Climate, Economy

China has criticized officials in the industrialized province of Shandong for deceiving authorities to evade capacity cuts in the polluting coal, steel, aluminum and chemical sectors, and slammed another province for lying about closing golf courses. In a statement late on Tuesday, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said Binzhou city, China’s aluminum smelter hub, used fake certificates and false data to win approval for 2.4 million tonnes of new aluminum capacity in 2014. The environmental watchdog also said Rizhao Steel, a major producer, continued to run a mill with 5.94 million tonnes of capacity after it had been due to shut in 2015. The ministry said all the issues with Binzhou and Rizhao had been resolved by the end of October this year, but did not give details. The sharply-worded statement came after the central government dispatched teams of inspectors to Shandong, Jilin, Zhejiang, Hainan, Sichuan, […]

How Blockchain Is Transforming The Energy Industry

24 Oct 2017   Economy

Commodity and energy trading houses have proven that they can adapt their business model in an economy that imposes more capital requirements and regulations every day. These companies have invested millions of dollars in the last decade to build efficient systems for their regulatory requirements and key risks. Today, a new technology, blockchain, is shaping the commodity market, making it more efficient with reduced transaction costs. Blockchain is a disruptive technology that allows storing data without the need for a central authority, implying that financial transactions will no longer be stored in a central database but distributed to several other computers that store data locally. For this reason, this technology is called distributed ledger technology (DLT). Each transaction is recorded and added to the previous one, resulting in a growing chain of information. Blockchain is a buzzword in the financial industry, and it’s slowly captivating the trading floor, as […]

There’s a Dangerous Bubble in the Fossil-Fuel Economy, and the Trump Administration Is Making It Worse

23 Oct 2017   Coal, Economy, USA

Last year, shortly after the election, the coal baron Robert Murray received a phone call from President-elect Donald Trump. “He said, ‘Tell your coal miners I got their backs,’ ” Murray later reported to Fox News. “Then he said, ‘I love you, man.’ ” Murray, who is the chairman and C.E.O. of Murray Energy, the largest private coal company in the country, was one of the first fossil-fuel executives to support Trump’s candidacy. Prior to the Republican National Convention, he hosted a fund-raiser for Trump in Charleston, West Virginia, attracting nearly five hundred thousand dollars in donations and contributing hundreds of thousands more from his own pocket. “It was eight years of pure hell under the Democrat Party and Obama,” Murray recently told “ Frontline .” He added, laughing into the camera, “But we won! It’s a wonderful victory!” Now Murray and his ilk have scored another victory. Last […]

The Approaching US Energy-Economic Crisis

20 Oct 2017   Economy, USA

I was recently asked to give a talk called, “ The Approaching US Energy-Economic Crisis .” In other words, how might the United States encounter problems that lead to a crisis? As we will see, many of the problems that could lead to a crisis (such as increased wage disparity and difficulty in collecting enough taxes) are issues that we are already beginning to encounter. In this talk, I first discuss the connection between energy and the economy. Without this connection, it doesn’t make sense to talk about a crisis arising with respect to energy and the economy. I then discuss seven issues that could lead to a US energy-economic crisis. Economic Growth Is Closely Tied to Energy Consumption If we look at world data, it is clear that there is a close tie between energy consumption and economic growth. Slide 2 On an individual country basis, there can […]

Growth prospects for energy-hungry Asia revised higher

27 Sep 2017   Asia, Economy

Growth in the developed economies of Asia should continue, especially if crude oil prices stay at moderate levels, the Asian Development Bank said. “Growth prospects for developing Asia are looking up, bolstered by a revival in world trade and strong momentum in the People’s Republic of China,” ADB Chief Economist Yasuyuki Sawada said in a statement Tuesday. China has the second largest economy in the world after the United States. The ADB said Chinese growth in the first half of the year was stronger than expected. Expansion of 6.7 percent is expected this year, an increase of 0.2 percent from the previous forecast. By contrast, The Conference Board said the U.S. economy should grow by about 2.7 percent for the rest of the year. Combined […]

Harvey Brings In First Drop In U.S. Industrial Output Since January

18 Sep 2017   Economy, USA

After six consecutive monthly gains, U.S. industrial production fell by 0.9 percent in August as Hurricane Harvey hit Gulf Coast refining, chemicals, and plastics materials production, the Federal Reserve said on Friday. “Hurricane Harvey, which hit the Gulf Coast of Texas in late August, is estimated to have reduced the rate of change in total output by roughly 3/4 percentage point,” the Fed said, noting that “The manufacturing industries with the largest estimated storm-related effects were petroleum refining, organic chemicals, and plastics materials and resins.” Mining production went down by 0.8 percent in August, after Hurricane Harvey temporarily curtailed drilling, servicing, and extraction activity for oil and natural gas, the Fed added. When Harvey made landfall in Texas, 24.49 percent of the current oil production of 1,750,000 bpd in the Gulf of Mexico had been shut-in, which equates to 428,568 bpd, and 25.94 percent of the natural gas production […]

Scientists warning of sand scarcity

16 Sep 2017   Economy

f you’re looking for a way to express something that’s staggeringly hard to count, you won’t find a more reliable metaphor than grains of sand. There is indeed quite a bit of it – about 7.5 quintillion grains on Earth’s beaches and deserts, according to one estimate. But if you think that this would be sufficient to supply an ever-expanding global economy with all the concrete, asphalt, glass, and semiconductors it could possibly desire, think again. Our consumption of sand is outpacing our understanding of the economics and environmental impacts of extracting, transporting, and consuming it, finds research published last Thursday in the journal Science. Out of the complexity of the global sand trade has emerged something of a butterfly effect, in which an economic decision in one place can wreak social and environmental havoc on the other side of the world. Using a holistic, interdisciplinary approach called telecoupling, […]

Earth Is Starting to Run Out of Sand

11 Sep 2017   Economy

When most of us think of limited resources, typically fossil fuels, trees or fresh water reserves come to mind. But, can we now add sand to the list? Well, according to scientists, our sand supplies are not only being depleted, but it’s happening at an alarming rate. Certainly, we’re all aware of the growing population in the world and its related effect on increasing demand for resources. However, in order to correctly address the issue, we will all need to broaden our concept of not only the meaning of mineral reserves depletion but also the various industries that rely upon sand mining to sustain production. Crushed stone, gravel and sand are the most crucial elements involved. Source: Pixabay The sand which is mined, done at rivers, beaches and sea floors, is used in three main areas: construction purposes including concrete and asphalt, glass, electronics and fracking for the recovery […]

The world could run out of food two decades earlier than thought

1 Sep 2017   Economy

By 2027 the world could be facing a 214 trillion calorie deficit, says Sara Menker, founder and chief executive of Gro Intelligence, an agricultural data technology company. In other words, in just a decade, we won’t have enough food to feed the planet. We’ve long known that we might reach a point where we have more people than the food to sustain them. By 2050, the world’s population is expected to reach 9.1 billion, and the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) predicts that at that point, the world would need to produce 70% more food than today to feed all those people. That 2050 deadline is the one usually cited by scientists and organizations like FAO and Oxfam as the year the world will run out of food. But the problem with this, and most, assessments of food insecurity, Menker says, is that it uses mass and […]

Slow economic growth? ‘Who cares?’

26 Aug 2017   Economy

The persistent belief that global economic growth is “dangerously slow” and fragile is just a myth, DBS said in a note on Thursday. “If you’re worried about slow growth today, get used to it. It’s probably going to be slower five years from now and slower yet five years after that,” David Carbon, chief economist at DBS, said in the note. Chris McGrath | Getty Images In the July update of its World Economic Outlook, the International Monetary Fund forecast global economic growth of 3.5 percent for 2017 and 3.6 percent for 2018, unchanged from its April outlook. The IMF report urged countries to pursue structural reforms, such as commodity exporters diversifying their economies, amid concerns about “shocks” upsetting the apple cart. But Carbon said economic growth wasn’t in the danger zone when it’s “looked at the way it should be: in per-capita terms,” with slower gross domestic product […]

World GDP in current US dollars seems to have peaked; this is a problem

16 Aug 2017   Economy

Falling interest rates have huge power. My background is as an actuary, so I am very much aware of the great power of interest rates. But a lot of people are not aware of this power, including, I suspect, some of the people making today’s decisions to raise interest rates. Similar people want to sell securities now being held by the Federal Reserve and by other central banks. This would further ramp up interest rates. With high interest rates, practically nothing that is bought using credit is affordable. This is frightening. Another group of people who don’t understand the power of interest rates is the group of people who put together the Peak Oil story. In my opinion, the story of finite resources, including oil, is true. But the way the problem manifests itself is quite different from what Peak Oilers have imagined because the economy is far more […]

Brace for a devastating oil shock ahead

4 Jul 2017   Economy, Peak Oil

If Independence Day were about feting the U.S. weaning itself from foreign oil and forging a renewables future, the man behind our call of the day probably wouldn’t be sounding the alarm on a potentially devastating crisis by the end of the decade. But it’s not. And we aren’t. And he is. Yes, according to the latest warning from Chris Martenson of the Peak Prosperity blog, there’s an oil shock looming as early as 2018. Not just any oil shock, either. The impact of this particularly nasty spike will be severe and long-lasting, he believes. “There will be an extremely painful oil supply shortfall sometime between 2018 and 2020,” he explains. “It’ll be highly disruptive to our over-leveraged global financial system, given how saddled it is with record debts and unfunded IOUs.” Martenson said there is a way to avoid it — but that’s only if the world economy […]

The Next Financial Crisis Is Not Far Away

4 Jul 2017   Economy

Recently, a Spanish group called “Ecologist in Action” asked me to give them a presentation on what kind of financial crisis we should expect. They wanted to know when it would be and how it would take place. The answer I had for the group is that we should expect financial collapse quite soon–perhaps as soon as the next few months. Our problem is energy related, but not in the way that most Peak Oil groups describe the problem. It is much more related to the election of President Trump and to the Brexit vote. I have talked about this subject in various forms before, but not since 2016 energy production and consumption data became available. Most of the slides in this presentation use new BP data, through 2016. A copy of the presentation can be found at this link: The Next Financial Crisis . 1 Slide 1 Most […]

Great recession fears as bankers warn next global crash could arrive ‘with a vengeance’

27 Jun 2017   China, Economy

Central bankers have voiced fears about the Chinese economy as corporate debt rises faster than GDP A new financial crisis is brewing in the emerging economies and it could hit “with a vengeance”, an influential group of central bankers has warned. Emerging markets such as China are showing the same signs that their economies are overheating as the US and the UK demonstrated before the financial crisis of 2007-08, according to the annual report of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS). Claudio Borio, the head of the BIS monetary and economic department, said a new recession could come “with a vengeance” and “the end may come to resemble more closely a financial boom gone wrong”. The BIS, which is sometimes known as the central bank for central banks and counts Bank of England Governor Mark Carney among its members, warned of trouble ahead for the world economy. It predicted […]

Energy demand metrics indicate strong U.S. economy

25 Mar 2017   Economy, USA

Metrics measuring consumer demand for fuels and related products in the United States were indicative of an improving economy, a trade group said. The American Petroleum Institute reported total petroleum deliveries, a measure of demand, gained 0.1 percent to 19.7 million barrels per day, its highest level since 2008. Total motor gasoline deliveries, a measure of consumer demand, was up to its second-highest level in nine years to 8.9 million bpd. “Crude oil production broke the 9 million barrels per day threshold for the first time since March 2016,” API Chief Economist Erica Bowman said in a statement . “This increase in production combined with more widespread jobs gains is good news for the economy, which appears to be moving […]

That Bubbling Sound Coming From U.S. Factories May Be Inflation

4 Jan 2017   Economy, USA

Champagne wasn’t the only thing bubbling at the start of 2017 for U.S. manufacturers: So was inflation, a potential warning sign in an otherwise broadly positive report on American factories. The Institute for Supply Management said Tuesday that its index of manufacturing increased for a fourth straight month, reaching a two-year high of 54.7 as new orders surged by the most since the summer of 2009 on stronger overseas and domestic demand. Percolating sales were evident in the group’s gauge of prices paid for raw materials, which advanced to 65.5, the highest level since June 2011. While the ISM sub-indexes can be volatile, the jump in prices caught the eye of factory managers and analysts, with survey chairman Bradley Holcomb noting it was “clearly something to watch” at the beginning of the year. A broad-based increase in costs of inputs for production corroborates signs of higher consumer inflation. The […]

Sovereign-Wealth Funds Threatened by Government Spending

26 Dec 2016   Economy

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev says the country’s sovereign-wealth fund has the money to help wean the central Asian nation off its dependence on oil revenues and build an economy of entrepreneurs. The 76-year-old president, who led Kazakhstan to independence from the Soviet Union 25 years ago, earlier this year told visitors to the new capital city he built that “Kazakhs have never lived as well as they live today” and the nation’s savings help maintain living standards. But since Mr. Nazarbayev created the so-called National Fund in 2000, his government has withdrawn $83 billion from it, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of data from Kazakhstan’s central bank that was corroborated by the International Monetary Fund. The National Fund has a balance of $61 billion as of Nov. 30, down 21% from its peak in August 2014. The Bayterek tower in Astana, Kazakhstan’s new capital city, with the […]

What Has Gone Wrong With Oil Prices, Debt, & GDP Growth?

9 Dec 2016   Economy

Our economy is a mystery to almost everyone, including economists. Let me explain the way I see the situation: (1) The big thing that pulls the economy forward is the time-shifting nature of debt and debt-like instruments . If we want any kind of specialization, we need some sort of long-term obligation that will make that specialization worthwhile. If one hunter-gatherer specializes in finding flints that will start fires, that hunter-gatherer needs some sort of guarantee that others, who are finding food, will share some of their food with him, so that the group, as a whole, can prosper. Others, who specialize in gathering firewood, or in childcare, also need some kind of guarantee that their efforts will be rewarded. At first, these obligations were enforced by social norms such as, “If you don’t follow the rules of the group, we will throw you out.” Gradually, reciprocal obligations became […]

How to Boost the Global Economy? Higher Oil Prices, Goldman Says

24 Nov 2016   Economy, Prices

Forget the stagflation of the 1970s. Higher oil prices would be a boon for the global economy, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Pricey crude means economies such as Saudi Arabia take in more money than they can spend, which financial markets help distribute through the rest of the world, boosting asset values and consumer confidence, the bank’s analysts Jeff Currie and Mikhail Sprogis wrote in a Nov. 22 research note. It’s a counter-intuitive notion, especially for anyone who lived through the 1970s, when Middle East turmoil hiked oil prices and pushed much of the developed world into recession. Back then, high oil prices meant money flowed from developed economies where consumption was high to emerging economies where consumption was low, taking money out of circulation and stagnating the economy. Things changed in the 2000s, Currie and Sprogis wrote. Modern financial systems took savings that were building up in […]

J.D. Power, LMC: new vehicle sales in US slide again, 6th time this year

24 Nov 2016   Economy, USA

For the second time in three months and the sixth time this year, new-vehicle retail sales in November are expected to slip from year-ago levels, according to a monthly sales forecast developed jointly by J.D. Power and LMC Automotive. US new-vehicle retail sales in November are projected to reach 1,128,900 units, a 2.0% decrease from November 2015 on a selling-day adjusted basis, while total new-vehicle sales are expected to drop 3.4% to 1,381,800. While the presidential election had the potential to disrupt vehicle sales in the first half of the month, in reality, the impact was minimal, the companies said. This is consistent with past elections when a small suppression of sales during […]

Where oil-rich Texas sees economic gains

22 Nov 2016   Economy, USA

 Some semblance of stabilization in the energy sector has resulted in a net positive for the state of the Texas economy, a regional banker said. The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas reported unemployment fell in all nine major metropolitan areas in the state last month. Keith R. Phillips, a senior economist at the bank, said there were broad indicators showing modest growth was likely in the months ahead. “With the stabilization of the energy sector and some recent improvement in the manufacturing sector, the Texas economy is on solid ground and will likely improve moderately in 2017,” he said in a statement. Crude oil prices have leveled off in the mid- to upper-$40 per barrel range for much of the latter quarter of 2016, after falling below $30 per barrel during […]

Why energy prices are ultimately headed lower; what the IMF missed

12 Oct 2016   Economy, IMF

We have been hearing a great deal about IMF concerns recently, after the release of its October 2016 World Economic Outlook and its Annual Meeting October 7-9. The concerns mentioned include the following: Too much growth in debt, with China particularly mentioned as a problem World economic growth seems to have slowed on a long-term basis Central bank intervention required to produce artificially low interest rates, to produce even this low growth Global international trade is no longer growing rapidly Economic stagnation could lead to protectionist calls These issues are very much related to issues that I have been writing about: It takes energy to make goods and services. It takes an increasing amount of energy consumption to create a growing amount of goods and services –in other words, growing GDP. This energy must be inexpensive, if it is to operate in the historical way: the economy produces good […]

IMF Cuts 2017 GDP Growth Outlook for Africa’s Largest Economies

5 Oct 2016   Africa, Economy, IMF

Low commodity prices, weak confidence drag down growth Nigeria’s economy forecast to contract 1.7% this year The International Monetary Fund has cut its 2017 economic growth forecasts for Africa’s two largest economies as low commodity prices, policy uncertainty and weak investor confidence weigh on output. Gross domestic product in South Africa will probably expand 0.8 percent next year, compared with the 1 percent forecast in July, the Washington-based lender said in its World Economic Outlook Report Tuesday. Nigeria’s economy will contract 1.7 percent this year and expand 0.6 percent in 2017, less than the 1.1 percent the IMF earlier forecast. The two nations make up more than half of the sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP. The fall in global commodity prices has hindered economic growth in the continent’s biggest producers of oil and minerals like platinum and gold, and led to a slump in foreign-currency earnings. In Nigeria, electricity shortages and […]

Dollar Rises on Fed Hawks as Pound Slumps; European Stocks Gain

4 Oct 2016   Economy, USA

Commodities drop as oil retreats from three-month high India’s rupee advances after the RBI cuts interest rates The dollar strengthened as hawkish comments from a Federal Reserve official spurred wagers that U.S. interest rates will rise before the end of the year. The pound slumped to its weakest level since 1985, while stocks in Europe rallied. The greenback extended its winning run versus the yen to a sixth day as a Bank of Japan survey showed companies trimmed their inflation forecasts. Sterling tumbled on mounting investor concern that the U.K. is heading for a so-called hard Brexit. European stocks headed for their longest run without losses in a year, fueled by a recovery in banks. Italy’s longer-dated bonds underperformed before the country sells 50-year securities for the first time. The Bloomberg Commodity Index fell as crude oil retreated from a three-month high. The dollar got a boost as futures […]

Rising US incomes defy election narrative

14 Sep 2016   Economy, USA

Household incomes surged last year in the US, suggesting American middle class fortunes are improving in defiance of the dark rhetoric that has dominated the presidential election campaign. A strengthening labour market, higher wages and persistently subdued inflation pushed real median household income up 5.2 percent between 2014 and 2015 to $56,516, the Census Bureau said on Tuesday. This marked the first gain since the eve of the global financial crisis in 2007 and the first time that inflation-adjusted growth exceeded 5 per cent since the bureau’s records began in 1967.  But the increase in 2015 still brought incomes to just 1.6 per cent below the levels they were hovering at the year before the recession started and they remain 2.4 percent below their peak, hit in 1999. Income gains were largest at the bottom and middle of the income scale relative to the top, reducing income inequality. The US election debate has been dominated by the story of long-term income stagnation, with analysts attributing the rise of Donald Trump in part to the shrinking ranks of America’s middle class, rising inequality and the impact of globalisation on household incomes. Tuesday’s strong numbers, which cover the year in which the Republican candidate launched his campaign, cast that narrative in a new light.

Strong Job Gains, for Second Month, Reframe Economic Outlook

6 Aug 2016   Economy, USA

After months of conflicting signals and economic uncertainty, it became clear on Friday that the American jobs machine has moved back into high gear. A report from the Labor Department that said employers added 255,000 jobs in July had been eagerly anticipated on Wall Street, in Washington and on the campaign trail, and the much-better-than-expected showing immediately rippled through all three arenas. Stocks surged, experts expressed more confidence that the Federal Reserve was likely to raise interest rates at least once this year, and it was evident that long-stagnant wages for ordinary workers were advancing at a more robust pace. “This was everything you could have asked for, maybe more,” said Michelle Meyer, head of United States economics at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “We’re seeing new entrants into the labor market, which implies a longer runway for the business cycle.” And with the political conventions completed, the buoyant […]

Post-Brexit dollar surge presents Fed with new conundrum

27 Jun 2016   Economy, USA

As Federal Reserve officials anxiously scan the aftershocks of the Brexit vote in the coming days, the reaction of the US dollar in currency markets will be front and centre of their attention.   The dollar rose sharply on Friday in response to the UK’s vote to leave the EU, as money flowed into perceived havens. But a further surge would inject a destabilising element into already unsettled markets and add pressure on the Fed to delay any future rate rises.  Lewis Alexander, US economist at Nomura, said the dollar would be “the first order of business” for the central bank as it examines the markets, followed by gyrations in credit and equities.

The dollar has been a main driver of Fed policy for the past two years because of the drag that a strong currency has imposed on US exports, inflation and corporate earnings. Nearly half of sales by S&P 500 companies in 2014 were generated overseas, according to UniCredit research.   The strong dollar has also injected financial volatility into emerging markets — as seen in January and February this year. It could pose a particular threat to China by rekindling worries about capital outflows and currency devaluation. It is also a potential menace to other emerging markets because of their large stocks of dollar-denominated debts.

Houston facing recessionary strains from low oil price

18 Jun 2016   Economy, USA

Lingering strains for a weak oil economy means the Texas city of Houston may be on the brink of recession, a report from a federal reserve bank said. Houston hosts the headquarters of dozens of national and international energy companies. Early this year, when crude oil prices were trading below $40 per barrel, Danish energy company Maersk Oil shut down its office in the city, laying off about 60 people. The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas said in a regular review of the regional economy the pressure from low oil prices was spilling over to other parts of the economy, with banks in southern U.S. states facing increasing risk. While outperforming its peers elsewhere […]

Fed expected to hold rates steady as Brexit vote clouds outlook

16 Jun 2016   Economy, USA

The Federal Reserve is expected to keep interest rates unchanged on Wednesday and signal if it still plans to raise rates twice in 2016 amid concerns about a U.S. hiring slowdown and Britain’s possible exit from the European Union. The Fed raised its key overnight lending rate in December for the first time in nearly a decade, but it has backed away from further monetary policy tightening this year largely due to a global economic slowdown and financial market volatility. The U.S. central bank is scheduled to issue its latest policy statement and updated economic projections following a two-day meeting at 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT). Fed Chair Janet Yellen will hold a news conference half an hour […]

Oklahoma’s economy pressured, but holding steady

16 Jun 2016   Economy, Shale Oil, USA

The economic outlook for the state of Oklahoma is negative as the revenue stream ebbs as a result of lower oil prices, Moody’s Investors Service says. Moody’s said Oklahoma’s credit rating was strong as conservative fiscal policies offset a broad contraction in the energy sector. “The outlook is negative,” the ratings agency added. Oklahoma is one of the largest oil producers in the United States, hosting some of the more lucrative shale basins in the country. Last week, oil services company Baker Hughes recorded 58 rigs in service in the state. Rig numbers serve as a loose barometer to gauge the health of the energy sector and, for Oklahoma, the number of rigs in service is 45 percent lower […]

US business leaders lower growth forecast for American economy

16 Jun 2016   Economy, USA

US business leaders have offered a bleak view of the American economy, lowering their growth forecast for this year and urging the Federal Reserve to be cautious about raising interest rates.  The Washington-based Business Roundtable, which represents the chief executives of large companies, said on Wednesday that its members expected the US economy to grow by 2.1 per cent in 2016, down from a forecast of 2.2 per cent in the first quarter, according to the group’s latest survey.  The US economy, the world’s largest, grew at an annual rate of just 0.8 per cent in the first quarter, according to official figures, but most economists expect this to accelerate in the coming months.

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During the Next Crisis, Entire Countries Will Go Bust

16 Jun 2016   Economy, Peak Oil

For seven years, the world has operated under a complete delusion that Central Banks somehow fixed the 2008 Crisis. All of the arguments claiming this defied common sense. A 5 th grader would tell you that you cannot solve a debt problem by issuing more debt. Similarly, anyone with a functioning brain could tell you that a bunch of academics with no real-world experience, none of whom have ever started a business or created a single job can’t “save” the economy. However, there is an AWFUL lot of money at stake in believing these lies. So the media and the banks and the politicians were happy to promote them. Indeed, one could very easily argue that nearly all of the wealth and power held by those at the top of the economy stem from this fiction. So it’s little surprise that no one would admit the facts: that the […]

Wall St. down sharply on oil drop, global growth worries

11 Jun 2016   Economy

A sharp drop in oil prices and global growth worries sent jitters through Wall Street, leading the three major U.S. indexes lower for the second straight day in volatile trading on Friday. After three days of gains, losses in the past two sessions have pushed the Nasdaq into the red for the week, while the S&P 500 and the Dow are roughly flat. Oil prices fell 2.5 percent as traders booked profits after a rally earlier this week pushed prices to their highest in 2016, and as the dollar regained lost ground. [O/R] Financial stocks came under pressure again as global issues, including uncertainty over interest rate hikes and the impending vote on Britain’s membership in the European Union, sent investors flocking to safe haven […]

World Bank downgrades its forecast for 2016 global economy

8 Jun 2016   Economy

WASHINGTON (AP) — The World Bank is reducing its forecast for the global economy this year – again. The aid agency now predicts that growth will reach 2.4 percent this year, down from the 2.9 percent it had foreseen in January and unchanged from a tepid 2015. A big problem is that commodity-exporting countries are struggling with low prices for raw materials. The U.S. economy is forecast to grow 1.9 percent, down from 2.4 percent in 2015. The eurozone is expected to grow 1.6 percent, the same as last year. The World Bank slashed its forecast for Japan’s growth to 0.5 percent from the 1.3 percent it expected in January. Its forecast for China remained 6.7 percent. In recent years, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund have consistently downgraded their initial forecasts.

Yellen Says Latest Jobs Report Raises Questions About Economic Outlook

7 Jun 2016   Economy, USA

Janet Yellen speaks at a World Affairs Council of Philadelphia event on Monday. Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen affirmed Monday that the central bank won’t be raising short-term interest rates until new uncertainties about the economic outlook are resolved. Her comments, delivered at the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia, echoed conclusions investors drew Friday after the release of disappointing job market data . Ms. Yellen and other officials still believe they will be gradually lifting rates because they expect the economy to improve. However, a rate increase at the Fed’s policy meeting next week is now effectively off the table. An increase in July is possible but has become less likely, and a September move is possible if economic data show the economy is rebounding by then. Her comments represented a shift from less than two weeks ago, when she confidently said a strengthening meant the Fed likely would […]

US job growth slowest since 2010

4 Jun 2016   Economy, USA

Hiring by US employers slowed last month to the weakest pace since 2010, clouding the economic picture and dealing a blow to the prospects for a Federal Reserve rate increase this month.  Non-farm payrolls rose by a seasonally adjusted 38,000 in May, below a revised 123,000 figure for April and well below expectations for growth of about 160,000. Employers took on 59,000 fewer workers in March and April than previously reported.  The unemployment rate slid to 4.7 per cent from 5 per cent but the declines were driven by people quitting the labour force, rather than buoyant hiring. In a worrying signal, the number of people working part-time because they could not find a full-time post rose by 468,000.

Stocks sold off and the dollar fell on the report, which also sent 10-year bond yields sliding from 1.7938 per cent to 1.728 per cent. The DXY dollar index fell 0.8 per cent. The latest payrolls numbers were affected by a strike by 35,000 Verizon Communications workers that began in late April and stretched through May. But even excluding that effect, the jobs report was poor and contrasted sharply with the robust gains that have been seen for much of the decade.  “This is a smack in the face for the US economy,” said Diane Swonk of DS Economics. “They [the Fed] need to see a much better June number to keep July on the table … When you are losing momentum going into the meeting, that is not when you raise rates.”

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U.S. job gains in May likely dented by Verizon strike

4 Jun 2016   Economy, USA

People enter the Nassau County Mega Job Fair at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York October 7, 2014. A strike by Verizon workers likely crimped U.S. job gains in May, but employment growth should still be strong enough to confirm a tightening labor market and push the Federal Reserve closer to raising interest rates soon. Nonfarm payrolls probably increased by 164,000 jobs in May after rising by 160,000 in April, according to a Reuters survey of economists ahead of Friday’s closely watched employment report. The jobless rate is forecast slipping one-tenth of a percentage point to 4.9 percent. A government report last week suggested a month-long strike by Verizon workers could slice 35,100 jobs from payrolls in May. The striking workers, who returned to their jobs on Wednesday, were regarded as unemployed because they did not receive a salary during the payrolls survey week. Without the strike, […]

U.S. First-Quarter GDP Growth Revised Higher; Corporate Profits Rose

27 May 2016   Economy, USA

U.S. corporate profits, hit hard last year by the energy downturn and strong dollar, show signs of stabilizing as oil prices dance around $50 a barrel and economic growth appears to be picking up. But American companies still face earnings pressure due to rising wage growth and a still-weak global economic expansion. A key measure of corporate profits—after taxes, without inventory valuation and capital consumption adjustments—rose at a 1.9% pace in the first three months of 2016, the Commerce Department said Friday. That was after dropping at an 8.1% pace in the fourth quarter and a 3.3% decline in the third quarter. “At least it’s not negative,” said Christine Short, senior vice president at analytics firm Estimize, though she added that the profit bounce was “still nothing to write home about.” The broader economy seems on track to rebound after a weak performance over the past few quarters. Gross […]

Auto, Mortgage Delinquencies Climb in Energy Regions

25 May 2016   Economy, USA

Mortgage delinquencies have climbed in the U.S. counties whose employment rates were hardest-hit by the… The year-and-a-half-long spell of low oil prices is making it hard for households to pay the bills in energy-producing regions, an ominous localized trend that comes as the rest of the country returns to pre-recession levels of health. Delinquencies on auto loans have spiked in the U.S. counties that had the highest employment in the oil-and-gas industry, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s quarterly report on household debt and credit. Mortgage delinquencies have also climbed, though not as dramatically. Tuesday’s report underscores that although the decline in oil prices has saved many Americans money at the pump, it has caused significant economic fallout for those who were working in the energy industry during the boom. So far, the increase in delinquencies and deterioration of credit appears to be concentrated only within […]

Fed signals interest rate hike firmly on the table for June

19 May 2016   Economy

Federal Reserve officials felt the U.S. economy could be ready for another interest rate increase in June, according to the minutes from the central bank’s April policy meeting released on Wednesday. Most participants in the policy-setting committee’s April 26-27 meeting said they wanted to see signs that economic growth was picking up in the second quarter and that employment and inflation were firming, the minutes showed. “Then it likely would be appropriate for the committee to increase the target range for the federal funds rate in June,” according to the minutes. The suggestion that a rate increase in June is firmly on the table suggests the Fed is closer to tightening monetary policy again than Wall Street had expected. The Fed lifted rates in December for the first time in nearly a decade. Prices for futures contracts on the Fed’s […]

The Real Economy Is Already In Recession

19 May 2016   Economy, USA

You are about to see a chart that is undeniable evidence that we have already entered a major economic slowdown. In the “real economy”, stuff is bought and sold and shipped around the country by trucks, railroads and planes. When more stuff is being bought and sold and shipped around the country, the “real economy” is growing, and when less stuff is being bought and sold and shipped around the country, the “real economy” is shrinking. I know that might sound really basic, but I want everyone to be on the same page as we proceed in this article. Just because stock prices are artificially high right now does not mean that the U.S. economy is in good shape. In fact, there was a stock rally at this exact time of the year in 2008 even though the underlying economic fundamentals were rapidly deteriorating. We all remember what happened […]

Debt: The Key Factor Connecting Energy and the Economy

7 May 2016   Economy

There are many who believe that the use of energy is critical to the growth of the economy. In fact, I am among these people. The thing that is not as apparent is that growth in energy consumption is dependent on the growth of debt . Both energy and debt have characteristics that are close to “magic” with respect to the growth of the economy. Economic growth can only take place when growing debt (or a very close substitute, such as company stock) is available to enable the use of energy products. The reason why debt is important is because energy products enable the creation of many kinds of capital goods, and these goods are often bought with debt. Commercial examples would include metal tools, factories, refineries, pipelines, electricity generation plants, electricity transmission lines, schools, hospitals, roads, gold coins, and commercial vehicles. Consumers also benefit because energy products allow […]

Debt: The Key Factor Connecting Energy and the Economy

3 May 2016   Economy, Shale Oil

There are many who believe that the use of energy is critical to the growth of the economy. In fact, I am among these people. The thing that is not as apparent is that growth in energy consumption is dependent on the growth of debt . Both energy and debt have characteristics that are close to “magic,” with respect to the growth of the economy. Economic growth can only take place when growing debt (or a very close substitute, such as company stock) is available to enable the use of energy products. The reason why debt is important is because energy products enable the creation of many kinds of capital goods, and these goods are often bought with debt. Commercial examples would include metal tools, factories, refineries, pipelines, electricity generation plants, electricity transmission lines, schools, hospitals, roads, gold coins, and commercial vehicles. Consumers also benefit because energy products allow […]

U.S. economy stalls in first quarter as activity weakens broadly

29 Apr 2016   Economy, USA

U.S. economic growth braked sharply in the first quarter to its slowest pace in two years as consumer spending softened and a strong dollar continued to undercut exports, but a pick-up in activity is anticipated given a buoyant labor market. Gross domestic product increased at a 0.5 percent annual rate, the weakest since the first quarter of 2014, the Labor Department said on Thursday in its advance estimate, also as businesses stepped up efforts to reduce unwanted merchandise clogging up warehouses. The economy was also blindsided by cheap oil, which has hurt the profits of oil field companies like Schlumberger ( SLB.N ) and Halliburton ( HAL.N ), resulting in business spending contracting at its fastest pace since the second quarter of 2009, when the recession was ending. “Although […]

Dollar Sinks to 11-Month Low Boosting Commodities as Stocks Drop

29 Apr 2016   Economy, USA

The dollar headed for its lowest close in almost a year as signs of slowing growth in the U.S. dimmed prospects for a Federal Reserve interest-rate increase. Stocks fell and commodities extended gains in their best month since 2010. The U.S. currency weakened against 13 of its 16 major peers, while the yen headed for its biggest weekly jump since 2008. Declines in the greenback are proving a boon for raw materials, helping lift gold and silver to 15-month highs. Crude oil has jumped 21 percent this month to more than $46 a barrel in New York. European equities trimmed their biggest monthly advance since November. The dollar’s third straight monthly drop and the prospects for the Fed moving gradually on interest rates are spurring the outlook for inflation, with the 10-year U.S. break-even rate at the highest since July. Reports today on consumer confidence and personal spending will […]

Bill Clinton Predicts Global “Crisis”

14 Apr 2016   Economy

Former President Bill Clinton is worried that a “crisis” of global proportions is around the corner, but that presumptive president Hillary Clinton will “know what to do” when it happens. During a speech yesterday, Clinton asserted that Hillary was better qualified to be president than him when he first ran “because of the trouble around the world”. “The world’s in tough shape,” said Clinton. “And one of the things that could stop us from rising together is a crisis around the world.” “I want somebody there that doesn’t have to figure it out, I want somebody there that will instinctively know what to do,” he added. Some will question Hillary’s proficiency in knowing “what to do” during a crisis given that she was Secretary of State during the attack on a United States outpost in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead. What Bill Clinton is referring to when […]

Why Low Oil Prices Haven’t Helped The Economy

13 Apr 2016   Economy, Prices, USA

Many analysts had anticipated that a dramatic drop in oil prices such as we’ve seen since the summer of 2014 could provide a big stimulus to the economy of a net oil importer like the United States. That doesn’t seem to be what we’ve observed in the data. There is no question that lower oil prices have been a big windfall for consumers. Americans today are spending $180 B less each year on energy goods and services than we were in July of 2014, which corresponds to about 1 percent of GDP. A year and a half ago, energy expenses constituted 5.4 percent of total consumer spending. Today that share is down to 3.7 percent. (Click to enlarge) Consumer purchases of energy goods and services as a percentage of total consumption spending , monthly 1959:M1 to 2016:M2. Blue horizontal line corresponds to an energy expenditure share of 6 percent. […]