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

Tag Archives: Bankruptcy

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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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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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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It’s a Short-Covering Rally in Oil and Oil Stocks

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, March 9, 2016:  

With crude oil up more than 30 percent over the last week, and companies like SeaDrill and Chesapeake Energy up 125 percent and 250 percent, respectively, over the last five days, short covering has persuaded some that the bottom is in. Investors, especially short sellers, in the oil patch need lots of risk capital, a high risk tolerance, and a short memory.

Goldman Sachs called it a

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Oil Industry Facing Massive Challenges

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


Energy producers are facing challenges that are threatening the existence of not only marginal, highly-leveraged producers, but large companies as well.

Canadian-based Suncor is just one example. Known for its Sunoco brand (now Petro-Canada), Canada’s largest crude-oil producer reported three weeks ago that it suffered a fourth-quarter loss of $1.45 billion and that it was slashing its capex (capital expenditures) for 2016 by 10 percent, forcing its expected 2016 production to fall by the same amount. It is also selling assets in order to keep paying its dividends to nervous investors. But Steve Williams, the company’s CEO, told equally nervous participants that “We will be one of the last guys standing.”

Lamar McKay, BP’s deputy chief executive, did the same: “Times are tough. You’d almost call them brutal right now. But we will adapt. We will make it.” This from the world’s sixth-largest oil and gas company which lost $6.5 billion in 2015 and was forced to lay off more than 3,000 employees.

John Hess, CEO of the Hess Corporation, also pumped his company’s resilience in the face of low crude prices. A much smaller company than BP, Hess Corporation suffered a loss of $3 billion last year, its first in more than a decade. Said Hess: “Our company has some of the best acreage [in North Dakota]. We can be more resilient as prices recover.”

Taken together, the oil industry worldwide has cut more than 300,000 jobs since the summer of 2014 (the peak of oil prices), while capex of nearly $1.5 trillion will be cancelled between 2015 and 2019, according to the conference sponsor. So far nearly 50 U.S. oil producers have filed for bankruptcy protection this year, with many more sure to follow this spring as banks readjust their reserve valuations used to back up their loans. This could imperil more than $17 billion in debt held by banks.

The most important revelation at the conference came from Saudi Arabia’s oil minister, Ali Al-Naimi, when he said that his country — despite rumors to the contrary that had driven crude oil prices temporarily higher — had absolutely no plans whatsoever to cut production in order to support higher prices. On that news alone, NYMEX crude oil fell $2 a barrel on Friday.

One of the problems facing these executives is the fact that frackers continue to produce in the face of falling rig counts and smaller workforces. Peak oil production touched 9.6 million barrels a day last year and remains at 9.1 million bpd. Daniel Yergin, the founder of Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA), now a subsidiary of IHS Inc., expects things to get worse — perhaps much worse — before they begin to get better:

This year is going to be very rough on the industry, very turbulent. We think that the decline in U.S. production is going to get more serious — another 600,000 to 800,000 barrels a day in this kind of price environment.

Globally the energy industry cut capex spending in 2015 by nearly 30 percent compared to 2014, while those in the United States have cut even further: an estimated 40 percent. For 2016, IHS CERA expects several large U.S. producers to cut spending by 50 percent compared to last year.

In the meantime, there’s another problem: where to store the surplus crude oil, estimated to be piling up at the rate of 1.5 to two million barrels every day. Empty tankers are being leased to store the surplus, called “floating storage,” waiting for demand to pick up (or supplies to dwindle). Now there is “rolling storage,” with 20,000 empty railroad tank cars sitting in sidings and storage yards across the country. Salt caverns and tankers are almost at capacity, and companies such as the Musket Corporation are taking advantage. Musket is a privately-held shipping company in Houston that built its business shipping crude oil by rail. But now it is in the storage business, finding and leasing empty tank cars to store the surplus until that “turnaround” day arrives, when demand exceeds production, and the surplus can be sopped up.

Since there is little evidence on the horizon to support higher crude oil prices, oil industry executives are running out of options and optimism. It will take more than a stiff upper lip to jawbone higher oil prices. In the meantime, for many it’s a matter of survival until that happy day arrives.

Pollyanna in Houston: False Optimism Pervades Oil Conference

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, February 29, 2016:

Cover of "Pollyanna"

Cover of Pollyanna

Author Eleanor Porter would be proud. Not only did her 1913 children’s book Pollyanna establish the “Pollyanna Principle” (someone with an excessively optimistic outlook despite facing all manner of difficulties), it set in motion eleven sequels by Elizabeth Borton or Harriet Lammis Smith. There were movies starting Mary Pickford and Hayley Mills.

All three authors were present in Houston last week, at least in spirit. First,

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Straight-line Thinking in a Curvilinear World: Natural Gas and Aubrey McClendon

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, February 10, 2016:  

Chesapeake Energy Capital Classic

It’s now apparent that Aubrey McClendon didn’t see the bumper sticker that appeared on cars following the last energy crash: “Please, God, give me one more boom and I promise not to screw it up.”

McClendon, along with a partner, $50,000, and 10 employees, started Chesapeake Energy in 1989. The company grew exponentially as the fracking revolution took off and up until recently the company employed 5,500 people and had annual revenues of $11 billion. Its stock (CHK) soared,

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Chesapeake Energy Claims It’s NOT Declaring Bankruptcy

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, February 9, 2016:  

On Monday, at 11:18 a.m., the second-largest natural gas company in the country issued this terse statement:

Kirkland & Ellis LLP has served as one of Chesapeake’s counsel since 2010 and continues to advise the company as it seeks to further strengthen its balance sheet following its recent debt exchange. Chesapeake currently has no plans to pursue bankruptcy and is aggressively seeking to maximize value for all shareholders.

Ominously, when Timothy Puko of the Wall Street Journal asked for clarification, he wrote “A Chesapeake spokesman declined to elaborate further.”

The company has been in survival mode since

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Venezuela Could See Hyperinflation, Economic Collapse

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

In December 2014 citizens of Venezuela paid 2,632 bolivars for a pound of meat. A year later they paid 14,138 bolivars, a 537-percent increase. They paid 3,066 bolivars for a supply of fruits and vegetables a year ago; last month they paid 12,118 bolivars, a 395-percent increase. For milk and cheese, prices increased 371 percent, from 2,084 bolivars to 7,735.

For fish they paid 1,408 bolivars a year ago; a year later the price of fish jumped to 5,940, an increase of 422 percent. Fats and oils: 335 bolivars to 1,340, an increase of 400 percent. Non-alcoholic beverages were 409 bolivars a year ago; today, 1,123 bolivars, a 275-percent increase.

A year from now, Venezuelans will look back fondly

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As Oil Price Drops, Iraq Faces Existential Threat

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, February 1, 2016:  

In Iraq the culture of dependency is so great that the drop in the price of oil threatens the country’s very existence. With every Iraqi dependent upon the government for essentials like sugar, tea, rice and cooking oil, and the government dependent upon oil for more than 90 percent of its budget, the existential threat is real.

In January 2015 the government, headed up by President Fuad Masum and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, passed a budget that

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Social Security Inching Its Way Toward Bankruptcy, Says CBO

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, January 25, 2016:  

The latest report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on the financial condition of Social Security merely confirms what the Social Security trustees have been saying for years: The welfare-state program that spent nearly a trillion dollars last year isn’t sustainable.

In July Treasury Secretary dazzled the press with his waffle: The program is safe and sound, but it faces problems:

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Interior Secretary Halts All New Coal Mining on Public Lands

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


On Friday President Obama’s Interior secretary, Sally Jewell (pictured above), announced a moratorium on new federal coal leases, claiming that her agency needs time to review the rules:

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Vulture Funds are Saving American oil

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

Over time vultures have gotten a bad rap. Some refuse even to admit that the American Bald Eagle is a vulture, preferring to think of it as a magnificent example of strong individualism and pride. In fact they are birds of prey, scavenging the carcasses of dead animals or, in the case of the Bald eagle, swooping down to snatch an unsuspecting fish from the water with its powerful talons.

Vulture funds work in somewhat the same way. To put it crudely, they

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Puerto Rico Stiffs Bond Investors on Monday

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, January 4, 2015:  

Coat of Arms of Puertor Rico

Coat of Arms of Puertor Rico

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OPEC Ignores Crude Oil Glut, Vows to Continue Pumping Flat Out

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, December 7, 2015:  

Following a contentious six-hour meeting on Friday, OPEC oil ministers meeting in Vienna announced that nothing will change: They will continue to pump at maximum rates despite the growing glut of oil in the world. Predictably, crude oil prices dropped, along with wholesale gasoline prices.

The fragile cartel’s members are pumping close to 31.5 mbd (million barrels per day) and would pump more if they could. They are already above the mythical “ceiling” of 30 mbd. When Iran, which currently provides 2.7 mbd to that number, recovers from U.S.-imposed sanctions, it expects to pump four mbd by next summer, adding further downside pressure on crude oil prices.

At these prices nearly every barrel OPEC members sell to the world market is sold at a loss. But the ministers are persuaded that,

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Saudi Arabia Announces Its Willingness to “Stabilize” Oil Prices

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, November 24, 2015:  

On Monday Saudi Arabia’s council of ministers confirmed the rumors that the leader of the OPEC cartel is now willing to “stabilize” world oil prices, saying in its announcement:

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Fourth Republican Debate: Feisty, Hilarious, Little Change in Polls

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, November 11, 2015:  

A more orderly and respectful atmosphere surrounded the fourth Republican debate on Tuesday night, a sharp contrast to last month’s debate where the moderators became the issue. That didn’t mean there were no fireworks, or disagreements, just that the tone was more serious, as the candidates tried to shore up their positions and their poll numbers as they approached the final debate in December.

The topics included questions on

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Home Ownership Rate Lowest Since President LBJ

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, July 29, 2015:  

English: 904 S. 3rd, Mount Vernon, Washington....

According to the Census Bureau, home ownership in the United States has now dropped to the lowest level since 1967, and estimates are that the decline will continue to the lowest level ever recorded. The rate for the second quarter of 2015 was 63.4 percent, the lowest rate since Lyndon Johnson was president. The rate stands a good chance of reaching the all-time low, 63 percent, set in 1965 when the U.S. government began keeping track of such a statistic.

It wasn’t supposed to happen. In 1995 after the rate dipped to a breath-taking, eye-popping 64.7 percent from the previous 50-year average of 65.3 percent, according to the Census Bureau, the Clinton administration issued a call to arms! The government must do something!

When then-President Bill Clinton announced his “National Homeownership Strategy” in May 1995, he said,

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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.