Have nothing to do with the [evil] things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead, bring them out to the light... [For] when all things are brought out into the light, then their true nature is clearly revealed...

-Ephesians 5:11-13

Category Archives: Economics

Brazil’s Oil Company Shrinks Following Operation Car Wash Scandal

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, September 20, 2016: 

Brazil - The first 100% Brazilian oil platform...

Brazil – The first 100% Brazilian oil platform, the P-51 will produce about 180 thousand barrels of oil and 6 million cubic meters of gas per day when operating at full load.

Two separate announcements on Monday from officials at Petrobras, Brazil’s state-owned oil company, reveal the massive damage it has suffered over the last 10 years. First was the news that it just successfully concluded the offloading of its precious gas pipeline unit for an estimated $5 billion. The company said this was just part of its determination to sell off about $20 billion of its assets over the next couple of years in order to pay down some of its $125 billion indebtedness.

The second announcement was even more revealing:

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Autonomous Vehicles to Put Four Million People Out of Work?

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, September 16, 2016:  

Whenever economic change takes place, there are those who ask: Where will those displaced find other work? In counting the costs involved as autonomous vehicles (i.e., driverless cars, self-driving cars, robotic cars, etc.) continue to revolutionize how people move, Wolf Richter of Wolf Street concluded that more than four million people will lose their jobs:

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The Global Recession Claims its First Victim: Hanjin Shipping

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, September 9, 2016:  

English: Hanjin container ship

One of Hanjin’s container ships looking for a place to unload.

When the question about a tree falling in the forest is asked, it’s usually posed as a philosophical one: “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” The question is never asked: “What if someone is around who doesn’t want to hear it?”

That appears to explain the kept media’s deafness over the state of the global economy. Even when the Wall Street Journal reported on the bankruptcy of Hanjin Shipping, the world’s seventh largest container shipping company, not one word was spent on asking why. Instead

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Hanjin Bankruptcy: a Harbinger for the Global Economy?

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, September 8, 2016:  

English: A Delmas operated Container ship NICO...

South Korea’s Hanjin Shipping was the world’s seventh-largest container shipping company, moving (until last week) 100 million tons of cargo on its 200 cargo ships from manufacturers to retailers across the globe. Last week, following years of losses as the global economy has slowed, Hanjin declared bankruptcy. That move stranded 90 of those ships as off-loading companies refused to unload them over concerns that they wouldn’t be paid.

Even an offer of $90 million from what’s left of Hanjin (including $36 million from the personal assets of its chairman) fell far short of the necessary $543 million estimated to unload all of its ships that are now circling ports around the world.

Concerns are mounting that

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New North American Oil Discoveries Continue to Frustrate OPEC

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, September 7, 2016:  

Apache Corporation, the sixth-largest independent oil and gas producer in the United States, announced this week that it has found a new gargantuan reserve of oil and natural gas in West Texas that could be one of the largest energy finds in the last decade. At the low end, the new “Alpine High” field could contain two billion barrels of oil plus massive natural gas reserves. More importantly, especially to OPEC members gearing up to find ways to raise prices, the company’s estimated profit margin is 30 percent after taking in account all expected development costs, even with crude selling at below $50 a barrel.

Apache isn’t waiting around for higher prices but instead has already drilled 19 wells into the new field and has committed one-fourth of its capital budget this year to develop the field further. The profit potential for natural gas is nearly off the charts. So abundant is that energy source from the new field that the company’s breakeven point is just 10 cents per million British thermal units (BTUs) while the market price for natural gas closed Tuesday at $2.72. This is going to turn Apache, currently a $20 billion company, into a major player.

The discovery is also going to turn OPEC’s plans to cap production in order to drive prices higher upside down. It is planning to meet informally later this month in Algiers to plot ways that it can drive the price of crude higher in response to increasing pleas from members such as Venezuela and Algeria for higher prices.

As recently as a month ago, OPEC was hoping to drive prices back to $70 a barrel in order to reduce the financial pressures low crude oil prices have imposed on all of the cartel’s members. Now, however, it is hoping to drive prices up to $60. Last month Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, under mounting pressure to solve his country’s self-imposed problems resulting in inflation and food riots, said last month that the “fair, balanced oil price must be set at $70 a barrel.” On Monday the head of Algeria’s state-owned oil company, Noureddine Boutarfa, exclaimed that oil prices “below $50 a barrel is not acceptable.”

Acceptable or not, oil prices are headed lower according to both Morgan Stanley and Bank of America. Earlier this year Morgan Stanley estimated that the price of crude would move higher, but just cut its third-quarter forecast from $50 a barrel to $45. On August 25, Bank of America estimated that demand for crude would decline further than expected.

What befuddled prognosticators was the failure of the oil market to “rebalance” during the summer when American drivers set a record, burning through nearly 10 million barrels of gasoline every day. Even though American drivers drove a record three trillion miles over the last 12 months, that failed to soak up much of the surplus overhanging the market. Now, with demand slackening after Labor Day, and an economy essentially flat-lined, there is little reason to believe that prices will move higher.

Catching OPEC by surprise was the news that U.S. frackers restarted eight oil rigs every week this summer despite the lower prices. This puts the cartel in a pickle of its own creation: If it cuts production in order to drive prices higher, this will only further encourage U.S. producers to bring more rigs online. If they continue to flood the market, their budget deficits will get even larger while still losing precious market share to the Americans.

One unnamed OPEC official told the Wall Street Journal that all of this has caught the cartel by surprise: “[The U.S. shale industry has] surprised us, and can surprise us again.”

The Coming Puerto Rican Bailout

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, August 29, 2016:  

On or before September 1, President Obama will complete the eight appointments to the oversight board created when he signed PROMESA (Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act) into law on June 30. Those already on the board include Republican Senators Orrin Hatch and Marco Rubio, Democrat Senator Bill Nelson and Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez.

In theory the board will have the power to override the island’s government, delay litigation, fire government workers, and “suggest” other ways the island can begin to recover from its present economic implosion. It has been described as a “de facto” Chapter 9 bankruptcy. In practice it is likely that,

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Chicago’s Futile Attempt to Shut Down Gun Pipeline

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, August 26, 2016: 

In the fall of 2014, Indiana resident Willie Lee Biles made several trips via a Mega Bus coach bus to Chicago carrying a gym bag containing more than 30 handguns. He would then sit on the front porch of a friend’s home on Southside Chicago and sell them to anyone who stopped by. The markups were sometimes three and four times what Biles paid for them back home.

Officials investigating the case said that at least one of his customers was a convicted felon, while others were gang members. In May Biles was convicted of selling firearms without a license, a misdemeanor, and could be incarcerated for up to five years and fined as much as $250,000.

Biles was part of the Iron Pipeline,

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Venezuelan Exodus Accelerates

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, August 24, 2016:  

Prison 015

Since early July an estimated 300,000 Venezuelans have crossed the border into Colombia seeking to purchase basic necessities. Some decided to stay.

Eduardo (not his real name) used to make $18 a month as a systems engineer in Venezuela, but that wasn’t enough to feed his family. With inflation reducing the purchasing power of the Bolivar Fuerte by half nearly every month, he fled to Bogota to stay with a friend. Eduardo told the Financial Times: “At least I can find food here. Back in Venezuela we all lacked anything to eat. I’d rather stay here doing whatever [I can], rather than heading back while [Venezuela’s Marxist President Nicolas] Maduro and his cronies are there.”

An accountant who crossed the border into Colombia told the Times that he is going to stay even if “I have to stand at a corner all day selling arepas [a cheap food made from corn meal].”

Families of those who are staying in Colombia are hoping they will receive funds from the border-crossers in order to stay alive. Otherwise, they are likely to starve.

Most of those who can afford to leave the country have already left. The problems in Venezuela started with the takeover of the government by Marxist Hugo Chavez in 1999: First to feel the crunch were many of the 20,000 oil men that Chavez fired from their positions at the state-owned oil company. (Chavez replaced them with incompetent political cronies.) Then businessmen left the country to escape the currency controls imposed by Chavez. They were followed by students who saw the handwriting on the wall. In the last 17 years, an estimated 1.8 million Venezuelans have left the Chavez/Maduro socialist paradise.

Tebie Gonzalez and Ramiro Ramirez cashed out their emergency savings account in order to buy life’s essentials in Colombia in July. They returned home only to face the existential question: What happens when those staples — food and medicines — run out? What will they do?

Daya Silva, a native of Caracas, used a vacation in Buenos Aires to find a job. She found work and returned to Venezuela briefly, carrying a suitcase full of much-needed items for her friends and family: drugs to treat high blood pressure, essential kitchen supplies, and paper goods. But what happens to her friends and family when these run out?

The vast majority of Venezuelans are today facing the same question. Although the number of Venezuelans requesting refugee status has jumped from 127 in 2000 to 10,300 last year, according to the UN, that is a tiny fraction of the 30 million people remaining in the country. With unemployment at 17 percent (government figures are no longer available), with between 76 and 80 percent of the population living in poverty (again, no government numbers are available so these are estimates from independent sources), and with inflation destroying what’s left of the purchasing power of the local currency (inflation is expected to exceed 2,000 percent next year) the average Venezuelan has almost run out of options.

Relocating to nearby Colombia is an option, but Guyana, which borders Venezuela on the east, is having its own set of problems and is deporting Venezuelans back home as fast as they arrive. Brazil, on the south border, is no mecca either, with its own economy being wrecked by socialist policies.

In short, the average Venezuelan lives in a prison forged by the socialism imposed by Chavez and Maduro. The country more and more resembles a concentration camp where the guards are deliberately starving the inmates.

A Bald-faced Daylight Robbery in Massachusetts

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, August 24, 2016:  

One has to give Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker credit: he has devised a plan to punish ride-sharing newcomers, save the state’s failing taxi cartel, and fund much-needed “infrastructure improvements,” all with free money: a new tax on ride-sharing customers that won’t be paid by either the driver or his customers. Instead, it will be levied on those evil newcomers – Uber, Lyft, and the like – who dared to innovate and take business away from the existing cartel.

Here’s how it works:

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Big Taxi Wins Big in Massachusetts

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, August 23, 2016:  

Sign Taxi Zagreb, Croatia

Massachusetts is now the 35th state to regulate ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft, but with a vengeance not seen elsewhere: A portion of a new 20-cent tax per ride will be used to fund improvements for the old taxi cartel.

First, the new tax is not called a “tax” but a “fee.” Second, the tax won’t be charged either to the driver or to his customer, but to the ride-sharing company itself. Third,

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Oil Now in a Bull Market?

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, August 19, 2016:  

English: Logo of the U.S. Energy Information A...

Energy traders looking for any sort of news that would push crude oil prices higher have found two slender reeds: a falling dollar (making American oil more expensive overseas), and a surprise report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) showing shrinkage in the vast oversupply of crude and gasoline that has weighed on the market.

Accordingly, the price of Brent crude (priced in London) and West Texas Intermediate (priced in Oklahoma) jumped by more than 20 percent over the last week, putting it into “bull market” territory. It has led observers to conclude that

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Fully Self-driving Cars by 2021, Says Ford CEO

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, August 18, 2016:  

On Tuesday, during a hectic day of media interviews about the coming revolution being caused by autonomous vehicles (AVs), Ford’s CEO Mark Fields told Wall Street analysts that such vehicles “could have just as significant an impact on society as [Henry] Ford’s moving assembly line did 100 years ago.” He told workers at a Ford plant in Palo Alto, “This is a transformational moment in our industry … it is a transformational moment in our company. We are making people’s lives better by changing the way the world moves.”

He said that his company’s foray begins with e-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft and will expand to the consumer market by 2021 if not sooner.

He’s not alone.

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Anti-gun Politicians Falling Further Behind, Thanks to the Internet

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, August 17, 2016:  

Steve Israel

Anti-freedom Congressman Steve Israel

New York’s Democratic House Representative Steve Israel (left) could be the poster child of the typical anti-gun politician. He has little respect for his oath of office, scoring an abysmal 18 out of 100 on the John Birch Society’s Freedom Index. That index uniquely measures how pols vote on issues that are clearly constitutional, or not. Israel gets it right (no pun intended) just once out of every six votes.

The anti-gun establishment loves him. He scores 100% with both the

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3D Printed Guns: More Freedom, Less Government

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, August 16, 2016:  

Swatjester AR15

Swatjester AR15

With Cody Wilson, the founder of Defense Distributed, a company that sells both software and hardware allowing individuals to make firearms at home, is getting more attention thanks to his pending lawsuit against the government. In light of this, Thor Benson with the liberal anti-gun Daily Beast, decided to interview Wilson. Following that interview, Benson predicted a “terrifying future” where government gun controllers wouldn’t be able to keep up with Wilson’s expanding technology.

Benson wrote that legislators can pass laws requiring background checks and putting undesirables onto “no fly, no buy” lists all day long. But they will have precious little impact

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Venezuelans Pour Into Colombia to Buy Food; Staples Not Available at Home

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, August 15, 2016:  

Nicolas Maduro

Nicolas Maduro

Marisol Sayago, a 65-year-old pensioner living in San Cristobal, Venezuela, traveled 40 miles on Saturday to buy 15 rolls of toilet paper. Crossing the border into Colombia, she did what shopping she could on her limited pension check in shops in Cucuta, saying, “It’s not economical, but what else can I do? Over there [pointing back across the bridge to Venezuela] you can’t find anything.”

Sayago was joined by an estimated 54,000 other Venezuelans suffering under the socialist regime of her country’s Marxist president, Nicolas Maduro (shown).

Maduro closed the border with Colombia last August, claiming that

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A Lesson in Free Market Economics – from Venezuela?

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, August 15, 2016:  

Over the weekend, some 54,000 Venezuelan citizens living near the country’s border with Colombia poured over the Simon Bolivar Bridge so they could buy toilet paper, cosmetics, vitamins, and tires. Many brought empty suitcases, others brought packets of the nearly worthless Venezuelan bolivar currency, still others brought gold earrings, necklaces, and other personal valuables to exchange in local pawn shops for Colombian currency so they could spend it.

They were there to buy. And the merchants were ready to sell. As they exited the bridge on foot (cars won’t be allowed for at least another month) they were greeted with friendly Colombians

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Oil Price Rise Only Temporary; Could Drop Back to Low $20s

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, August 10, 2016:  

On November 17, gas prices had dropped to $1.9...

In light of record supplies of gasoline and crude oil, why are prices rising? After hitting a low of $26 a barrel in January, crude oil topped $52 a barrel in early June, only to drop below $40 a barrel last week. The recent rise back above $40 is a head fake, according to oil analyst Stephen Schork, editor of the daily subscription Schork Report. The recent bounce forced massive short covering by traders convinced oil was headed back down to the $20s and had nothing to do with the fundamentals.

The fundamentals, according to Schork, are bearish for oil (and gasoline) prices, and not likely to change any time soon. Even the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the government’s watchdog agency in charge of predicting the future, has been forced to

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Production Freeze Main Topic at OPEC Late September Meeting

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, August 8, 2016: 

OPEC’s current president, Qatar’s energy minister Mohammed bin Saleh Al Sada (shown at center, above), announced Monday that the oil cartel will hold “informal” side meetings at the International Energy Forum in Algeria in late September. Not surprisingly, the topic will once again be “cooperation” among the disparate and increasingly desperate members to restrict production in efforts to force oil prices higher.

Al Sada, who holds a Ph.D. from England’s University of Manchester’s Institute of Science and Technology, asserted,

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What Would the Apostle Paul say About the Minimum Wage?

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, August 5, 2016: 

One can surmise from his instructions to believers in the church in Thessalonica: “When we were with you, we gave you this rule: Whoever will not work should not be allowed to eat.” What’s less clear is: what if government mandates keep one from working, or keep employers from hiring those willing to work?

St. Paul assumed that people had the freedom to contract out their labor, to sell the one primary thing they possessed: their time and effort in exchange for money. He also assumed that employers, given the opportunity, were free to hire someone who could add value to their businesses.

Minimum wage laws abrogate that essential freedom, with all manner of negative results. One,

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More Proof: Raising the Minimum Wage Increases Unemployment

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, August 4, 2016: 

If more proof were needed that raising the minimum wage would increase unemployment among lesser-skilled workers, the Heritage Foundation’s latest study provides it.

For one thing, the push for a national minimum wage of $15 an hour would actually cost employers $18.61 an hour, thanks to payroll taxes, unemployment insurance and ObamaCare taxes. The proposed increase, if passed into law, would, according to Heritage, impact one-third of all American workers, and hurt the most those working in lower-cost states.

The math is simple, and deadly.

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Many of the articles on Light from the Right first appeared on either The New American or the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor.