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

Carbondale, Illinois Seizes Eclipse Opportunity to Boost Its Economy

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, August 21, 2017:

Two years ago Carbondale, Illinois’ mayor Mike Henry learned of the epic cosmic event headed his way and decided not to say, “Oh, no!” but instead said, “Oh, yes!”:

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Another Nail in OPEC’s Coffin: Fracking Old Wells Dropping U.S. Breakeven Points Further

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, August 21, 2017:

Ed Morse, Citigroup’s head of commodity research, told a Bloomberg television audience last week that OPEC’s position “is not sustainable over a long period. In the end, the markets are going to win, and [the winner] is going to be shale. If we’re in a $40 to $45 world, we’ll have enough drilling to add to the [world’s] surplus.”

Morse is reiterating the mantra sung for years: OPEC has long since run out of options and has all but lost its monopoly influence over world crude oil prices. If it reduces supply, prices go up, making U.S. frackers more profitable and inviting more capital in to expand production. If it increases supply, the lower prices cut further into each member’s cash flow, forcing them to continue to deficit spend without gaining any advantage over the Americans.

The breakeven point for U.S. frackers has been estimated to be between $40 and $50 a barrel. On Friday U.S. crude oil closed at $49 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX – see floor photo above).

Now OPEC is faced with another challenge from the American oil industry:

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Morgan Stanley: Tesla Not as Green as You Think

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, August 18, 2017:

English: Tesla Roadster Sport 2.5, the fourth-...

Tesla Roadster Sport 2.5, the fourth-generation Roadster from electric carmaker Tesla Motors Inc.

Morgan Stanley, the international banking behemoth, released the results of its study on the best “green” companies in which to invest. This is based, said the bank, on the assumptions that some, perhaps many, investors who have drunk the “green Kool-Aid” want to invest in ways to “save” the environment and fight against “climate change.” Missing from the top of their list is perhaps the most visible “green” automobile company: Tesla, Inc., formerly known as Tesla Motors.

After comparing the savings in carbon dioxide (CO2) achieved by Tesla’s high-mileage electric vehicles to all the “secondary and tertiary” factors involved in their manufacture, Morgan Stanley said,

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Trump Takes Credit for Banner Jobs Report

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, August 4, 2017:  

Within 15 minutes of Friday morning’s release of the July jobs numbers by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), President Trump tweeted: “Excellent Jobs Numbers just released — and I have just begun. Many job stifling regulations continue to fall. Movement back to USA!”

He has good reason to cheer:

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Warehouse Automation Causes Employment to Increase?

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, August 4, 2017:

Image of Autonomous Robot From Second Grand Ch...

Image of Autonomous Robot From Second Grand Challenge Advancing to Urban Challenge.

The crux of the anti-capitalist cabal’s complaint about the robotic revolution taking place all across the country is this: since robots can do anything that a human can do, everyone’s job is on the chopping block. So how do they explain the simple bald fact that warehousing jobs – where much of the robotic revolution is taking place – have increased? A year ago there were 867,300 people employed in warehousing. Today that number is approaching 950,000. And Apple is looking to add thousands more. How is that possible?

Part of the answer of course is

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Robots Making Humans More Efficient, Opening Up New Jobs

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, August 3, 2017:

Factory Automation with industrial robots for ...

Factory Automation with industrial robots for palletizing food products like bread and toast at a bakery in Germany,

SAM, the Semi-Automated Mason, can be seen on YouTube laying bricks alongside human masons. While SAM can, according to contractors, lay around 2,000 bricks a day compared to an average of 600 to 700 for a human mason, the video illustrates a key point missed by many: It shows human workers programmming SAM and providing it the bricks and mud and following behind cleaning up after it. In other words, SAM, produced by Construction Robotics, isn’t replacing masons, it is making them more efficient and saving their backs.

A year ago, Rick Cohen, the founder of Symbotic LLC, which develops autonomous robots for warehouses, said,

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Debt Ceiling Debate Charade Begins, Again

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, August 2, 2017:

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin warned Congress in a letter sent Friday that they had precious little time to raise the federal government’s debt ceiling before his department ran out of money. He even put a date on when that would happen if the ceiling wasn’t raised: “Based upon our available information, I believe that it is critical that Congress act to increase the nation’s borrowing authority by September 29.”

That’s the day before the end of the government’s fiscal year, and closely coincides with the moment when the Treasury will be unable to pay the government’s bills. The Treasury’s cash balances are expected to drop close to $25 billion in September, dangerously low when compared to the government’s budget of $4 trillion.

Mnuchin no doubt is referring to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report released in June that reminded citizens that

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Democrats and Fiscal Reality Present Roadblocks for Trump’s Budget

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, August 1, 2017:

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on Februar...

Deciding to move on following the failure of the Senate to pass the “skinny” ObamaCare repeal bill, the Trump administration announced on Monday its accelerated plans for passing its budget bill. According to Marc Short, President Trump’s director of legislative affairs, background work on the budget will take place in August in preparation for committee action in the House in September. Assuming little resistance there, Short hopes for a floor vote in October, a Senate vote in November, and the president’s signature on it immediately thereafter.

It’s good to dream big.

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Texas Grows 3.9 Percent in First Quarter. California? 0.1 Percent

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, July 28, 2017: 

This map shows the incorporated areas in Colli...

This map shows the incorporated areas in Collin County, Texas. McKinney is highlighted in red.

Melissa, a resident of San Diego with degrees in psychology and Spanish, could find work only at a fast-food restaurant, recounted an article in (of all places) the Los Angeles Times about how some conservatives fed up with California are looking to Texas for greener pastures — and not just economically. The final straw for Melissa was when her daughter came home from public school one day with a “young adult” novel as homework. The book celebrated the use of cigarettes and pills to cope with stress, and Melissa decided it was time to leave the Golden State.

She found Conservative Move, a website just launched to help Californians

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Fracking’s Vicious Cycle Making Bondholders Nervous

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, July 20, 2017:

King Abdullah ibn Abdul Aziz in 2002

King Abdullah ibn Abdul Aziz

Investors in high-yield bonds issued by small fracking companies are getting nervous. Last year those bonds, according to Bloomberg, gained some 38 percent as they rebounded from lows set earlier. In June they slipped two percent. In the bond business, that’s enough to make bond fund managers and individual investors nervous. It’s bad enough that the S&P 500 Energy Sector Index of energy stocks has lost 16 percent so far this year. What’s worse is the vicious cycle that frackers find themselves in.

For instance,

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From Hero to Zero: $2-Billion Private Equity Fund Goes Broke in Oil

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, July 17, 2017:  

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo

EnerVest Ltd., a Houston-based private equity firm run by John Walker, is being taken over by Wells Fargo, one of its largest lenders, to satisfy its unpaid debts. The firm raised capital from large investors, foundations, and pension plans and bought existing oil wells, improved them, and sent the dividends back to the investors.

In 2011, it had come off a very successful year. It owned 19,000 onshore oil wells on four million acres of land in 12 states. Its previous investments delivered a compounded annual return of 36 percent, a track record that made it relatively easy for Walker to raise additional capital. In a classic understatement, Walker said, “We had an outstanding year.” He explained just how he and his company did it; he bought cheap and sold dear, without using borrowed funds:

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Will Mulvaney Have Any More Success with MAGAnomics than Stockman did with Reaganomics?

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, July 17, 2017:

English: Official portrait of US Rep. Mick Mul...

Mick Mulvaney.

After serving in the House as a Republican representative from Michigan, David Stockman served as President Ronald Reagan’s OMB director from January 1981 until he quit 4½ years later in frustration. He got half of Reaganomics passed – the tax reduction part. He failed in getting the other half passed – the government spending cut part.

Mick Mulvaney is now Trump’s OMB Director after serving in the House as a Republican from South Carolina. And his job is likely to be as difficult and frustrating as was Stockman’s.

It’s far too soon to speculate about Mulvaney.

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Goldilocks Stock Market Making Forecasters Nervous

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, July 13, 2017:  

At the moment, Wall Street investors are enjoying a “Goldilocks” economy: not so hot that it pushes prices up and not so cold that it causes a recession. Translation: Unemployment is low, wages are rising, interest rates are still near record lows, the gross domestic product (GDP) continues to grow (although not as fast as President Trump would like), and inflation is under control.

It isn’t a perfect world, but to Wall Street investors it’s close.

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Trump Keeps Another Promise: Ignore Social Security’s Impending Shortfalls

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, July 12, 2017: 

English: Scanned image of author's US Social S...

During his presidential campaign, Republican Party candidate Donald Trump made it abundantly clear that he would not do anything to restore the financial integrity of Social Security:

I’m not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican, and I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid. Every other Republican is going to cut, and even if they wouldn’t, they don’t know what to do because they don’t know where the money is. I do.

Now that he is president, he no doubt has discovered just “where the money is”: It’s been spent by the government. And likely due to the commitment by the Democrats to oppose anything and everything he’d like to do, he’s just going to leave the failing and shrinking program alone.

This has caused angst among realists who see the federal program failing to meet its promises in less than 17 years and offering various ideas and suggestions on how to “fix” it.

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Robots May Take 2/3 of Las Vegas Service Jobs

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, July 10, 2017:

Two college professors from the University of Redlands, California, looked at the occupations at the highest risk of being automated or replaced by robots, analyzed 100 American cities with working populations over 250,000, and listed those cities most at risk. They included Bakersfield and Riverside, California; El Paso, Texas; and at the top of the list, Las Vegas. The professors predict that over the next two decades, at the present rate that robots are replacing workers, 65 percent of the jobs in Las Vegas will be done by robots.

They will include robots

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Crude Oil to Climb to $60 a Barrel, Claim Aramco’s CEO, Citi, and Goldman

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, July 10, 2017:  

English: Flag of the Organization of Petroleum...

Claiming that the worldwide demand for crude oil will jump by 20 million barrels of oil per day over the next five years, Amin Nasser, the CEO of Saudi Aramco, said, “Investments in smaller increments such as [U.S.] shale oil will just not cut it.” Speaking at the World Petroleum Congress in Istanbul last week, Nasser said:

If we look at the long-term situation of oil supplies, for example, the picture is becoming increasingly worrying.

 

Financial investors are shying away from making much-needed large investments in oil exploration, long-term development and the related infrastructure….

 

New discoveries are also on a downtrend. The volume of conventional [non-shale] oil discovered around the world over the past four years has more than halved compared with the previous four.

Speaking to his own interest, Nasser is trying to talk up the value of his company, which remains on schedule to sell five percent of itself in what some are calling “the world’s largest IPO [initial public offering].” To stress the point, Nasser said

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When Will the Luddites Ever Learn?

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, July 10, 2017: 

Rage Against the Machine

Rage Against the Machine

Two Oxford University professors, Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne, wrote back in 2013 that the robotic revolution would overtake and virtually displace human workers in broad expanses of U.S. industry. Those occupations most at risk include loan officers (98 percent chance of being replaced by a robot), receptionists and information clerks (96 percent), paralegals and legal assistants (94 percent), retail sales people (92 percent), taxi drivers and chauffeurs (89 percent), and fast food cooks (81 percent).

At the bottom of the list are elementary school teachers and physicians and surgeons (0.4 percent chance), lawyers (4 percent), musicians and singers (7 percent), and reporters and correspondents (11 percent).

They found that almost half of those currently employed in the United States were in their “high risk” category, defined as jobs that could be automated “relatively soon, perhaps over the next decade or two.”

Two other college professors, this time from the University of Redlands, California, decided to take the Oxford study and apply it to American cities with more than 250,000 workers. They concluded that

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Robots and Kiosks (and Amazon) are Making Jobs Reports Irrelevant

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, July 7, 2017:

MarketWatch

MarketWatch

Malcolm Frank is one of those rarest of futurists: He sees what’s coming and writes clearly about what to do about it. In his What to do When Machines do Everything: How to get Ahead in a World of AI, Algorithms, Bots and Big Data, Frank discusses the massive upheavals businesses are going through as they try to keep up and stay profitable.

One issue he doesn’t discuss is how to measure the new economy’s output.

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Jobs Market Getting Tighter, Says ADP

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, July 6, 2017:

At first blush the jobs report from ADP, the data-processing firm that works with Moody’s Analytics in developing its monthly review, looked disappointing. Economists had expected 185,000 new jobs created in June but instead they got just 158,000. Further, both estimates and ADP were well below the 230,000 new jobs number reported for May.

A closer look behind the headlines reveals a startling fact:

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CBO Raises Its Deficit, Debt Forecasts in Latest Revision

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, July 5, 2017:  

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) just revised its January report with new data on spending, revenues, and economic growth. The revision isn’t good:

The projected rise in [annual] deficits would be the result of rapid growth in spending for federal retirement and health care programs targeted to older people, and to rising interest payments on the government’s debt, accompanied by only moderate growth in revenue collections.

In other words, the CBO simply doesn’t believe that President Trump’s plans to reduce regulation, cut taxes, and repeal ObamaCare will amount to much. Instead the government programs on autopilot — Social Security, Medicare, and especially debt service on the country’s $20 trillion national debt — will eat up nearly 80 percent of the government’s total budget in less than 10 years. Said the CBO:

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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.