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

Have Oil Prices Hit Bottom?

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, April 21, 2016:  

The 40 percent increase in the price of crude oil just since the end of January prompts two questions: Have investors seen the bottom in oil prices, and have drivers seen the lows in gas prices?

Todd Garner, the managing partner at Protec Energy Partners hedge fund, thinks so:

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Is $40 Oil the New Normal?

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, April 22, 2016:  

To the consternation of traders short the market, crude has jumped from $30 a barrel in late January to over $40 currently, with many indicators pointing to still higher prices. Was $30 the bottom? What will be the new ceiling?

Every bull market rises from the ashes of fear, disgust and despair. Traders and investors reasonably expected oil to bottom at well below $30, perhaps in the 20s, with some heavyweights, including Goldman Sachs, suggesting even lower prices. Some took short positions, certain that their calculus was correct: OPEC had maxxed out, American production seemed impervious to precipitous declines in rig counts, China’s economy was faltering and signs of recession were continuing to expose themselves around the globe, including the U.S. What could go wrong?

A little energy company, Callon Petroleum, showed exactly what could go wrong. Three times in the last six months the company has sold new shares to raise equity, and three times the company’s stock has risen. Logic and experience would suggest that dilution of shares would reduce their price. But with Callon, shares jumped from $4.21 in the middle of January to nearly $10 currently.

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Nothing is Likely to Change in Brazil

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, April 20, 2016: 

One of Warren Buffett’s favorite expressions is “when the tide goes out, everyone will see who’s been swimming naked.”  In Brazil the tide went out at the start of the Great Recession and now the whole world can see who was swimming naked.

When President Lula was elected in 2002 the commodity boom was underway, and Brazil was enjoying the ride. Its major exports are soybeans, sugar, and iron ore, and under Lula Brazil’s GDP was running 10 percent a year. Lula implemented major expansions of the welfare state, including putting in place such generous pension plans that state workers could retire at age 54 for men and at age 52 for women at 90 percent of their final pay. The average Brazilian’s household income rose, and statists worldwide pointed to Brazil’s success story, naming it as one of the BRIC countries that would soon overtake the developed nations of the world, and doing it while expanding government spending.

But when Dilma Rousseff took over in 2011 the Great Recession was revealing the true nature of spending far beyond the ability of the economy to sustain it. In 2014 the government’s finances were in such dreadful shape that

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Have Oil Prices Hit Bottom?

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, April 21, 2016:

The 40 percent increase in the price of crude oil just since the end of January prompts two questions: Have investors seen the bottom in oil prices, and have drivers seen the lows in gas prices?

Todd Garner, the managing partner at Protec Energy Partners hedge fund, thinks so:

Keep reading…

Opposition Gearing Up to Colo. Single-payer Healthcare Proposal

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, April 15, 2016: 

Mark Twain is alleged to have said that “a lie can travel halfway around the world before truth can get its boots on.” In Colorado Initiative 20 is already on the ballot in November and opposition to it is just getting its boots on.

If passed, it would be the 69th amendment to Colorado’s state constitution and would collect all the state’s healthcare programs — Medicaid, children’s healthcare, and all the other state and federal healthcare programs — under one roof. It would replace ObamaCare with what supporters are calling ColoradoCare. And it would double the state’s budget in its first year.

The language of the ballot initiative question may be enough to kill it:

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Are Federal Bailouts of States’ Pension Plans Inevitable?

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, April 13, 2016:

English: Devin Nunes, U.S. Representative from California (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

California Representative Devin Nunes, a middle-of-the-road Republican from the state’s 22ndDistrict with a middling voting record (a Freedom Index rating of just 53), got something right: he sees the coming implosion of underfunded pension and health care plans across the country, and offered a bill to do something about it: force the states and the pension managers to tell the truth about the numbers:

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Goldman Sachs’ Warning Dents Crude Oil Price

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, April 13, 2016:  

The price of crude oil, which reached $65 a barrel a year ago, fell below $30 in January with expectations that its decline wouldn’t end until it hit $20, or even lower. But hopeful optimists see light at the end of the tunnel — this coming from next Sunday’s OPEC meeting in Doha, Qatar (photo above) — where an agreement to freeze production at current levels will be on the table, bid crude higher in an almost straight line. On Tuesday NYMEX crude hit $42 a barrel, a 40-percent jump from January’s lows.

A note from Goldman Sachs on Tuesday provided a sobering view:

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Revolving Credit Lines to Oil Industry Pose New Hazards to Banks

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, April 12, 2016:  

One Wells Fargo Center – Charlotte, North Caro...

One Wells Fargo Center – Charlotte, North Carolina

As earnings season on Wall Street starts, investors in the big banks are just now learning about unfunded revolving lines of credit (revolvers) that those banks extended to oil and energy related companies when times were better.

Ten of the largest U.S. banks, including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, and Wells Fargo, just disclosed that they have $147 billion in unfunded revolvers, which are likely to expand their exposure to the energy industry just when they would rather reduce it.

Those banks have been setting aside loan loss reserves amounting to billions in anticipation of the inevitable:

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States’ Pension, Health Plans Increasingly Vastly Underfunded

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, April 11, 2016:  

The numbers being reported by pension fund managers are so out of touch with reality that Representative Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) has proposed legislation to correct them. Said Nunes: “It has been clear for years that many cities and states are critically underfunding their pension programs and hiding the fiscal holes with accounting tricks. When these pension funds go insolvent, they will create problems so disastrous that the fund officials assume the federal government will have to bail them out.”

According to Joshua Rauh, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute, the amount of underfunding is

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$15 Minimum Wage Laws Spreading Across the Country

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, April 4, 2016:  

Today (Monday) California Governor Jerry Brown will sign a bill raising the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, the first state to do so. The law will do it in stages over the next six years so that the unemployment impact won’t be so severe. In the next couple of weeks, legislation that has passed the New York legislature also raising that state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour is expected to be signed into law as well.

Unions and others pushing the “Fight for $15” policy are now gearing up to push the $15 minimum wage on other states, such as

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The PC Crowd, Economic Ignorance, and the Minimum Wage

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, April 4, 2016:  

No political correctness

Nick Adams, the Australian author of Retaking America: Crushing Political Correctness, has arrived on the American scene at precisely the right moment. He has appeared on nearly every major TV and radio show, writes for Townhall.com and Townhall Finance, and serves as a Centennial Institute Policy Fellow at Colorado Christian University. And he was named Honorary Texan in 2013 by Texas Governor Rick Perry.

PC is being used as a hammer to intimidate, emasculate, or otherwise neutralize opposition to any Progressive agenda. Rather than answering legitimate questions or responding to thoughtful objections, the PC crowd instead accuses the questioner of being

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A Closer look at the Jobs Report

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, April 1, 2016:  

From a distance the jobs report issued on Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) looked pretty good: 215,000 new jobs were created by the economy in March while earnings, year-over-year, increased by 2.3 percent. The average hours worked remained stable, and the labor force participation rate rose off its recent record lows.

The numbers came from two sources: payroll numbers provided by businesses directly to the Labor Department, and household numbers provided by phone-call surveys.

In looking at the numbers, Ward McCarthy, chief financial economist at Jefferies LLC, a massive global investment firm headquartered in New York City, said that “we continue to generate a lot of jobs” without asking what kind. A closer look reveals

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Credit Rating Agencies Finally Reacting to China’s Economic Implosion

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, April 12, 2016:  

English: World countries by Standard & Poor's ...

English: World countries by Standard & Poor’s Foreign Rating. Legend: Green – AAA Turquoise – AA Lighter blue – A Darker blue – BBB Purple – BB Red – B : Grey – not rated, (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First it was Fitch. Late last year it downgraded China’s sovereign debt by two notches, from AAA to A, which, according to its own definition, signals debt that is “more vulnerable to adverse business or economic conditions than is the case for [the two] higher ratings.”

In early March, Moody’s Investors Service got on board, knocking China’s debt rating down by one notch, followed by Standard and Poor’s on Thursday, which kept China’s rating at AA but with a negative outlook.

Translation: something’s coming.

Said S&P:

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Standard & Poor’s Downgrades Chinese Sovereign Debt

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, March 31, 2016: 

Cover of "Coming Collapse of China"

The last of the three credit rating agencies to recognize China’s ongoing economic implosion, Standard & Poor’s, downgraded its rating on Chinese debt modestly on Thursday. The agency maintained its AA rating (one notch below its highest) but changed its outlook to “negative,” meaning another downgrade is possible within the next 12 months. It said:

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Will the Robotic Revolution Make Your Job Obsolete?

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, March 28, 2016:  

More than two dozen massive bright red robots move 20-foot-long shipping containers at the Los Angeles terminal developed by TraPac, cutting costs by between an estimated 30 and 50 percent. A new terminal, being built at the Port of Long Beach, will be able to handle nearly half of that port’s entire volume, moving and stacking more than three million of those shipping containers every year.

But the Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands has more automated delivery terminals than the entire United States, thanks to delays by Luddite unions in America determined to

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Brazil’s Economy Entering Depression

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, March 28, 2016: 

English: Aerial view of Rio de Janeiro city ce...

English: Aerial view of Rio de Janeiro city center, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The latest numbers coming out of Brazil confirm what Goldman Sachs said last December: “What started as a recession … is now mutating into an outright economic depression, given the deep contraction of domestic demand.”

Translation: President Dilma Rousseff’s attempt to stimulate the slowing economy via massive insertions of new debt has in fact had the opposite result.

Consumers have cut back by more than eight percent across the board, while investment spending has declined more than 10 percent last year, with cumulative capital spending

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Another Keynesian Failure: Brazil

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, March 28, 2016:  

John Maynard Keynes Русский: Джон Мейнард Кейн...

John Maynard Keynes

Boiled down to its most crude elements, Keynesianism, according to Antony Mueller at the Mises Institute, is “the economic policy doctrine of growth by spending.” Since 2003, when the current political party in Brazil, first headed up by Lula and now by Dilma Rousseff, came to power, it installed it in spades. For a while it seemed to work: demand for Brazil’s raw materials: oil, iron ore, and agricultural products grew as China (also pursuing the “growth by spending” mantra) also grew.

But the boom, which at one point included Brazil as one of the BRIC (Russia, India, and China) nations that would soon overtake the developed world, went bust.

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The Fed Joins Other Voices Predicting a U.S. Recession

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on March 22, 2016:  

Harry Dent, the author of The Great Crash Ahead, says that the current rebound in stocks is a head-fake of the first order, that the end of the seven-year bull market in stocks occurred last May. He said just look at a three-year chart of the SPX (Standard and Poor’s 500 Index) and see the rounded top formation.

Instead, talking heads all across the media are calling the recent rise following the precipitous decline that began the first day of trading of 2016 just a speed bump, a hiccup as the seven-year-long bull market in stocks is getting its second wind.

Markit Ltd., the monster financial services and advisory company located in London, issued its first warning in late February with its flash that its services purchasing managers’ index

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Markit Ltd. Says U.S. Economy Is Faltering

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, March 22, 2016:  

Markit Ltd., the London-based global financial information behemoth, issued an early warning about signs of the coming recession in late February when it published its services purchasing managers’ index. It went negative for the first time in more than two years. At the time, Chris Williamson, Markit’s chief economist, said:

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Evidence Mounts for U.S. Recession in 2016

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, March 14, 2016:  

Nearly everyone with an opinion is warning about the increasing probability of the United States entering a recession — two quarters of negative growth — before the end of the year.

Cabinet - Class Photo, 1984: Front row: David ...

President Ronald Reagan’s former budget director David Stockman (middle, left) has been negative on the economy for months, noting in early February that

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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.