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: Energy

Latest GDP Report: The Good News and the Bad News

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

Friday’s report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) was so filled with disclaimers that one will have to wait another month to get a true picture of how the economy is performing under President Trump. In the meantime, said the BEA, real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 0.7 percent in the first quarter of 2017.

However, last-minute retail sales data (which showed slowing) wasn’t incorporated into Friday’s report, causing the BEA to say that its estimate

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Trump Floats Trial Balloon on Tax Reform; Wants Feedback

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, April 26, 2017:

Initially referred to as a statement of general principles, the one-page summary of the Trump administration’s tax reform plan looked more like a trial balloon. Said the White House, the administration “will hold listening sessions with stakeholders to receive their input … [in order to] develop the details of a plan that … can pass both chambers.”

Reiterating Trump’s goals of growing the economy, creating millions of jobs, simplifying the tax code, and providing tax relief to middle-income families, the trial balloon as summarized would

lower the corporate tax rate from 39.6 percent to 15 percent, including Subchapter S or “pass-through” corporations;

 

reduce the number of individual income tax brackets from seven to three: 10%, 25% and 35%, depending on income;

 

double the standard deduction, currently at $6,300 for individuals and $12,600 for married couples filing jointly;

 

expand tax relief to families with child and dependent care expenses;

 

eliminate various tax breaks that apply mainly to the wealthiest taxpayers;

 

keep mortgage interest and charitable deductions while eliminating deductions for state income taxes paid;

 

repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT);

 

repeal the 3.8% ObamaCare tax that hits small businesses and investment income;

 

allow a one-time “tax holiday” for international corporations holding trillions overseas; and

 

eliminate tax breaks for special interests.

Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin called it “the biggest tax cut and the largest tax reform in the history of our country,” while his Chief Economic Advisor Gary Cohn said the plan represented a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to do something really big.”

What’s really big is the potential deficits Trump’s plan could cause, with at least one critic estimating that it would result in $6 trillion in deficits over the next 10 years.

The underlying goal of the administration being pushed by Trump is that by cutting these tax rates the economy would awake from its slumber and start generating three percent annual rates of growth of the nation’s GDP. Although the Laffer Curve was not mentioned by Mnuchin or economist Stephen Moore (in his recent critique of the government’s economic outlook), it’s the same principle: lower tax rates to result in higher economic growth which will (in theory) result in higher taxes collected by the government.

The increase in the standard deduction is also designed to allow an estimated 27 million Americans who file a long form listing their mortgage interest and charitable deductions to use a “big postcard” instead. This “simplification” of the tax code has long been a stated goal of Trump as candidate and his administration after he was inaugurated in January.

Wednesday’s announcement is just the opening salvo in what promises to be a long war before anything reaches Trump’s desk. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is calling it a gift for the already-wealthy Americans who don’t need any more tax breaks. And Mnuchin referred to the Senate strategy of “reconciliation” that is likely to be needed to pass the Senate without Democrat votes. He noted that he hoped that the bill that finally passes Congress and is signed into law by the president will be permanent, but “if we have them for [just] 10 years, that’s better than nothing.”

Reconciliation would allow Republicans to pass it without a single Democrat vote, but would also cause the plan to expire in 10 years if it generates deficits. This is what happened to the tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush. When the projected revenue growth didn’t meet expectations, his tax cuts for the most part were automatically ended.

The obstacles are substantial, including determined if futile resistance from Democrats and complaints from the energy industry which might see its depletion allowance deductions cut or removed in Trump’s final bill. Those details will be revealed in June and could also negatively impact heavily-indebted public utilities and cable companies that might see some loss of their interest deductions.

On the other hand, winners could include companies that are currently most negatively impacted by high corporate rates in force, including engineering and construction companies, food wholesalers, publishers, and retailers.

The old proverb applies as Trump’s trial balloon gets translated into specific language in the tax reform bill in June: “There’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip.” A newer one is this from Isaac Boltansky, an analyst at Compass Point Research and Trading, who has been following these events closely:

The sugar high of tax cut headlines could turn into a nagging headache once stakeholders return to the painstaking consideration of process and pay-fors.

An Inside Look at Venezuela’s Collapse

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, April 21, 2017: 

Português: Brasília - O chanceler da Venezuela...

Marxist Nicolas Maduro

Andres Malave grew up in Caracas until Chavez took over. Then he and his family were able to escape – barely – to the US. Wrote Malave, “It was a hard choice, but in hindsight, we were the lucky ones.”

Now he laments the blind eye many Americans turn towards the rioting, the deaths, the crime, the economic devastation, and the ravages of inflation that Venezuela is suffering:

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GM Ceases Operations in Venezuela Following Government Seizure of its Plant

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

English: Logo of General Motors Corporation. S...

Following the government’s confiscation of its parts plant, General Motors announced on Wednesday it was ceasing all operations in Venezuela. The company said the seizure was illegal and that it would seek legal remedies.

The announcement puts 2,700 workers making replacement parts in the plant out of work, with small comfort coming from GM, which said it would make “separation payments” to those employees.

But what then? Another 3,900 people will likely find their jobs in jeopardy as the 79 car dealers that employ them will also shortly disappear in the aftermath of GM’s decision.

GM joins an ever-growing list of companies that can’t operate in the socialist paradise run by Marxist dictator Nicolás Maduro, including

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Jobs Numbers Come in Higher Once Again, Supporting Trump’s Policies

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

Reporters used adjectives such as “torrid,” “solid,” “unexpected,” and “strong” to characterize March jobs growth of 263,000, as reported by ADP/Moody’s on Wednesday, which far exceeded professional economists’ estimates of 170,000 new jobs for the month.

Last month Mark Zandi was uncharacteristically buoyant when commenting on February’s jobs numbers: “February was a very good month for workers. Powering job growth were the construction, mining and manufacturing industries.… Near record high job openings and record low layoffs underpin the entire market.”

Today Zandi extended his comments as the jobs market continues its recovery: “Job growth is off to a strong start in 2017. The gains are broad-based but most notable in the goods-producing side of the economy, including construction, manufacturing and mining.”

During the past eight years economists such as Zandi had much less to be excited about as jobs growth under the previous administration was

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Trump Uses CRA to Roll Back Obama Rules

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

President Donald Trump will be signing legislation to overturn a rule that the previous administration put in place prohibiting states from blocking federal grant money to abortion providers, including Planned Parenthood. The announcement was made during Wednesday morning’s press conference and will affect some $300 million of federal money this year.

The president has already signed legislation repealing or neutering 11 such rules left over from the Obama administration, with two more pending and a couple more working their way through Congress. There’s a time clock running: the Congressional Review Act (CRA), which allows a 60-day “lookback” on the previous administration’s rules, runs out on April 28.

The leftist DailyKos celebrated the collapse of RyanCare but warned its progressive audience that these small victories using the CRA are mounting up:

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U.S. Rig Count Up, OPEC Influence Down

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, April 3, 2017:

An announcement on Friday by Baker Hughes, one of the world’s largest oil-field services companies, put one more nail in OPEC’s coffin. Despite the cartel’s attempt to manipulate world crude-oil prices to its benefit, the oil and gas rig count in the United States jumped by 15 last week and now sits at 824, an increase of 374 in just the last year.

Two days earlier, another nail had been pounded into place:

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Keystone XL Pipeline Granted Approval by State Department

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, March 24, 2017: 

Keystone XL demonstration, White House,8-23-20...

With the signing of the cross-border permit by the State Department on Friday, the real work on completing Phase IV of the Keystone Pipeline from Canada to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast begins. TransCanada, the owner and operator of the pipeline, still thinks the project is viable economically even though it has been stalled for 16 months by the previous administration. In a press release, TransCanada’s CEO Russ Girling said:

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Fitch Knocks Saudi Arabia’s Credit Rating Down Another Notch

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, March 22, 2017:

Fitch Ratings downgraded Saudi Arabia’s credit rating again on Wednesday, bringing it perilously close to “speculative,” from “investment grade.” It dropped the country’s long-term credit rating from A+ to AA-, but with a “stable” outlook, noting that the reduction was due to the country’s “continued deterioration of public and external balance sheets.”

Fitch sees what both Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s, the other two global credit rating agencies, see: declining oil prices hurting a country that once enjoyed the highest investment grade ratings thanks to high oil prices that not only paid for extravagant welfare programs and subsidies to its citizens but allowed it to accumulate three-quarters of a trillion dollars in foreign reserves — more than ample to ride out any conceivable storm.

The rating agencies have seen that an inconceivable storm arrived in 2014 when

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More Evidence that OPEC’s Influence is Waning

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, March 22, 2017:

A measure of the success – and failure – of OPEC’s agreement to limit crude oil production can be seen in the chart of NYMEX crude oil price behavior (Sources below) dating from last fall. When the agreement was inked back in November, crude was at $46.50 a barrel. The price soared and traders got excited, putting in long bets that set records.

By early January, reality began setting in as compliance among the cartel’s members and non-members (who agreed to go along for the ride) began to wane. The roof fell in a couple of weeks ago when inventory builds continued to set records, and the price dropped through support at $50.

In other words, in OPEC’s attempt to birth an elephant, it succeeded in birthing a gnat.

Saudi Arabia maintained a stiff upper lip during the Houston oil conference, stating flat out that

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Saudi Arabia Losing Influence in Global Oil Markets

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, March 21, 2017:

As it continues to wrestle with declining oil prices worldwide, Saudi Arabia, the de facto head of the OPEC oil cartel, is giving up ground. It said a week ago that it would not allow any “free riders” to enjoy higher oil prices if they rose due to Saudi’s singular attempt to keep them up. A week later it was reported that the kingdom cut its production by 800,000 barrels per day, 60 percent below its agreement. So much for disclaimers against those “free riders” who continue to violate the agreement by exceeding their quotas.

Now comes news that the kingdom’s exports to the United States for the week ended March 10

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OPEC: A Lesson in Why Cartels Fail

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, March 15, 2017:

OPEC countries

OPEC countries

Every cartel comes together when individual members think they can obtain a greater economic benefit working together than they can alone. Every cartel breaks apart when members think they can do better alone. If a cartel is sanctioned by a government, it becomes a monopoly.

Since 1960, OPEC has largely stayed together with the collusion of governments and Big Oil interests around the world. But the fracking revolution, operating in the free market, is blowing up the model. Specifically,

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Drop in Crude Oil Prices Threatens OPEC and Its Production Cut Deal

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, March 14, 2017:  

A report released on Tuesday from OPEC indicated just how phony and ineffective is its highly touted production cut “agreement” the cartel managed to lash together among its members and nonmembers last fall. The agreement was designed to remove some 1.8 million barrels a day (mbd) from worldwide production — enough, it was hoped, to drive crude oil prices higher. Before the agreement OPEC was producing 32.5 mbd. Tuesday’s report indicated that the agreement has reduced daily production to — ready? — 31.96 mbd.

The agreement was destined to fail from the beginning. First,

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OPEC’s Death Throes?

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, March 10, 2017:

American Petroleum Institute

The tsunami threatening to sink OPEC into oblivion began early Tuesday. At the time, crude oil was selling for $54 a barrel, with expectations that the price would move higher. Those expectations were reflected in the highest ratio of longs to shorts that the Commodity Futures Trading Commission had seen in ten years.

And then came the announcement from the American Petroleum Institute that domestic crude oil inventories rose by a whopping 11.6 million barrels the previous week, against expectations of an increase of just 1.6 million. The selloff began, pushed along on Wednesday following the report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration that

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IEA’s “Oil 2017” Forecast: Crude Oil Shortages Coming by 2020

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, March 8, 2017:

English: Oil rig platform and stand-by vessel ...

The IEA (International Energy Agency) really ought to stick to its knitting. This intragovernmental agency was set up following the oil shock in the mid-1970s, allegedly to inform various governments as to the status of world crude oil supplies. It was to serve as an information resource on statistics about the global crude oil and other energy markets. In addition, it required its 29 government-members to maintain 90 days’ crude oil supplies on hand to meet another crisis.

It stepped outside its core area of expertise by issuing its Oil 2017 forecast for the next five years, combining a mixture of opinion, crystal-ball gazing, wet-finger in the air experimenting, tea-leaf analysis, naval gazing, and outright guessing that concluded that the world will no longer have a crude oil surplus but a shortage instead by 2020.

And it’s a crisis! Exclaimed Dr. Fatih Birol, the outfit’s director since 2015:

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Crude Oil Shortage in Three Years?

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, March 7, 2017:

Worldwide demand for crude oil will exceed 100 million barrels per day (mbd) in two years, and exceed global supplies in three, according to the Paris-based intergovernmental group International Energy Agency (IEA). In its latest five-year forecast, Oil 2017, the agency says that demand growth will come primarily from developing countries such as India, while demand growth elsewhere, such as the United States, will be tepid at best. The only way the coming shortage can be overcome, said Dr. Fatih Birol, IEA’s executive director, is for massive new investments in exploration, discovery, and production to be made immediately:

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Interior Secretary Repeals Another Obama-era Second Amendment Infringement

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, March 6, 2017: 

On his first day in office as Secretary of the Interior, newly minted Secretary Ryan Zinke (shown) issued Secretarial Order 3345 which “revokes Director’s Order 219,” effective immediately.

It’s a small thing, really, but hugely important in confirming that President Trump not only is intent on keeping his campaign promises but is determined to surround himself with people of like mind to help him keep them.

Director’s Order 219 was a parting shot issued by then-President Obama at the very end of his presidency that required the phasing out of the use of lead ammunition for hunting on Federal land. Specifically, it required that the

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Coal Making a Comeback, Thanks to Trump

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, March 3, 2017:

English: Powell Valley, as viewed from Benges ...

Powell Valley, as viewed from Benges Gap in Wise County, Virginia.

The coal comeback in Appalachia appears to be significant, according to Fox News’ Johnny Giles, following interviews with miners in Wise County, Virginia, the very heart of Appalachian coal country. He observed, “The past month has seen a resurgence of the coal industry that once formed the backbone of the region’s economy, and locals credit President Trump’s aggressive, pro-energy agenda.”

Early in his campaign, Trump made a promise that some wrote off as campaign rhetoric. Now 40-plus days into his administration, it’s clear that he intends to keep, as far as we can tell, many of those promises. He stated:

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Saudi Arabia’s Troubles Mount: Public Sale of Part of Aramco Delayed

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, February 17, 2017:

Saudi Aramco's headquarters complex in Dhahran...

Saudi Aramco’s headquarters complex in Dhahran, Eastern Province

Under Saudi Arabia’s “National Transformation Program” (NTP), being pushed by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the sale of up to five percent of the country’s crown jewel, Saudi Aramco (officially the Saudi Arabian Oil Company), would boost private employment and diversify the kingdom away from oil. The initial public offering (IPO), if and when it happens, would be the largest IPO in history and value Aramco at around $2 trillion, making it the largest publicly traded energy company in the world.

The funds raised would flow into a “sovereign wealth fund,” which would then invest in foreign and national companies in the private sector. This, it is hoped, would entice others to join in turning Saudi Arabia into more of a capitalist economy rather than a state-controlled one.

In Salman’s grand scheme,

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Heritage Foundation Blames Obama Admin. for America’s Economic Decline

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, February 15, 2017:

The Heritage Foundation minced no words in commenting on its latest Index of Economic Freedom: America’s continuing decline is all Obama’s fault:

America’s standing in the index [now in 17th place, the lowest in history] has dwindled steadily during the Obama years. This is largely owed to increased government spending, [increased] regulations, and a failed stimulus program that enriched the well-connected while leaving average Americans behind.

For the ninth time in 10 years, America’s index has lost ground. Coming in above 80 in 2008, the United States’ current index is barely above 75, tying it with

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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.