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: loans

Trump’s Strange Reversal on Ex-Im Bank: Names One Opposed to It to Run It?

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

English: Congressman Justin Amash

Congressman Justin Amash

When Representative Justin Amash (R-Mich.) learned on Friday that President Trump intended to resuscitate the Export-Import Bank by naming two people to its board (it has been limping along with just three out of five board members present), he nailed it, tweeting, “ExIm corporate welfare bank is the symbol of D.C. cronyism. It steals from taxpayers to subsidize big corporations. End ExIm. Drain the Swamp.”

For a while it looked as if the Ex-Im Bank was for all intents and purposes dead. In 2015, the House failed to renew its charter for the first time since 1945. However,

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Is Trump Pulling a Pruitt – Putting an Anti-Ex-Im Exec in Charge of the Bank?

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

English: Export-Import Bank of the United Stat...

Many were surprised when President Trump named the EPA’s fiercest enemy – Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt – to head up the agency. For years Pruitt has raged against the agency for overstepping its bounds and writing rules, mandates, and regulations that negatively impacted the fossil fuel industry. He sued the agency more than a dozen times in the last eight years.

What was Trump thinking?

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Bank of America Fined Again; Board Likely to Laugh It Off

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, March 29, 2017:

Photo of Bank of America ATM Machine by Brian ...

Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Klein fined Bank of America $45 million on Thursday for deliberately and intentionally harming a young couple who got caught up the real estate collapse and had to downsize. Erik and Renee Sundquist made a down payment on a smaller home and borrowed the balance from Countrywide Home Loans. When they couldn’t make the payments on that loan, the couple was advised by Bank of America, which owned Countrywide, to default as a precondition for a loan modification in order to lower their payments.

Klein described what happened next in his ruling in Sundquist v. Bank of America as a series of events so fantastic and bizarre as to be nearly incomprehensible:

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Brazil’s Former President Lula to Stand Trial in Third Corruption Case

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, October 14, 2016:  

Brazil’s former president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (shown), will stand trial for another instance of corruption relating to the scandal uncovered by Operation Car Wash, a corruption case that has engulfed Petrobras, the state-owned energy company, since 2014.

This time the prosecution is getting some help from one of those already tried, convicted, and sentenced to prison:

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Elon Musk: Once an Entrepreneur, Now a Crony Capitalist

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, June 9, 2016:  

In the early days, Elon Musk (shown above) made his fortune the usual way: by creating products and services that people could use, which they paid for using their own money, to improve their lives. Today, however, he has found a better way: using taxpayer guarantees to help fund his new ventures and reduce his risks while he enjoys the profits if they succeed.

In simple terms, Elon Musk has become a welfare queen on steroids,

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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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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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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:  

Sunoco

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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Just how Disruptive are Uber and Lyft?

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, October 2, 2015: 

According to three college professors, the answer is “very.” After interviewing 32 drivers and users of Uber, Lyft, and conventional cab services in London and San Francisco, the Uber and Lyft drivers and customers were the clear winners. The drivers had more freedom to select their working hours, many of them driving part-time to supplement their full-time work. The ride-sharing customers not only paid less than they would have for regular taxis, they felt safer, they knew more about the driver and his ratings from previous customers, and could track and follow the driver as he wended his way towards their location.

They also enjoyed getting to know their Uber or Lyft driver, discovering that they were just like them – ordinary people making a living and enjoying the process. Wrote the professors:

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Like a Zombie, the Export-Import Bank is Threatening to Come Back to Life

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, September 9, 2015:  

The movie White Zombie, a horror film in 1932 starring Bela Lugosi, featured zombies as mindless, unthinking henchmen under the spell of an evil magician. The Export-Import Bank doesn’t quite fit the definition, but it’s close.

Crafted by socialists surrounding FDR in 1934 and given life by an executive order, Ex-Im was granted permanent status as an agency in 1945. It has been repeatedly, endlessly, mindlessly resurrected almost 20 times since then, until the end of June.

Since then pressure has been building among its crony beneficiaries

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Pressure Increasing to Reopen Export-Import Bank

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, July 15, 2015:

It’s been just two weeks since the Export-Import Bank’s charter lapsed — that “fund of corporate welfare” as criticized by presidential candidate Barack Obama in 2008 before reality set in — and two predictable things have occurred: The world continues to turn without it, and K-Street lobbyists are busy trying to resurrect it.

With massive radio advertising and extensive help from the media publishing op-eds in its favor, the chances are increasing that the zombie will come back to life.

The deceased bank, touted as offering loan guarantees to small businesses wanting to do business overseas but unable to obtain financing in the regular way, was turned into a slush fund of free money to the country’s largest corporations:

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Greece to the EU: NO!

This article was published online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, July 6, 2015:  

In an astonishing blow to the European Union’s credibility, Greek voters, fed up with five years of austerity, continuing recession, 25-percent unemployment, and severe cuts in pension payouts, strongly said “No!” at the ballot box Sunday. The 68-word ballot question, rejected by 61 percent of the voters, reads (translated into English):

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Will Sunday’s Greek vote Signal the end of Monnet’s Dream?

This article was published at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, July 3, 2015:  

Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said that Sunday’s vote is only about accepting or rejecting the troika’s terms to restart the flow of bailout funds that has been keeping the Greek economy from tanking. He said that a “no” vote “does not mean rupture with Europe but a return to Europe with values.”

Most assuredly Sunday’s vote is likely to, in hindsight, turn out to be much more than that. Historians might write that Sunday, July 5, 2015, ended Monnet’s dream.

Monnet was the architect, the primary driving force, behind the failing experiment in Europe called the European Union. He was head of the first genuine European executive body,

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Export-Import Bank’s Charter Expires, for the Moment

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, July 1, 2015: 

English: Export-Import Bank of the United Stat...

Visitors to the Export-Import Bank’s website on Wednesday would have found a terse notice that its charter had “lapsed” effective midnight, June 30, meaning that “the Bank and any of its delegated authority lenders cannot authorize any new transactions.” However, the bank is likely to have a very long life even after its death:

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Stock Market Wipes Out All Gains for the Year

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, June 9, 2015:

On Monday, June 8, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) declined by enough to wipe out all gains investors thought they had made in stocks since January 1. It was confirmed by action in the Dow Jones Transportation Index (DJTA), which is even older than the Dow and reflects the price performance of the stocks of 20 transportation companies such as Avis, Delta Airlines, and FedEx. On Monday that index fell by two percent, its worst day since January 6, bringing that index to a loss of nearly 11 percent from its high earlier in the year.

The decline in the Dow was further confirmed by

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Tuition-Free Community College? Yea or Nay?

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, June 8, 2015: 

Students at a table in Muscatine Community Col...

Students at a table in Muscatine Community College courtyard

 

In 2008 the city council of Knoxville, Tennessee created “Knoxville Achieves”, a philanthropically-funded free tuition program for lower income families who couldn’t afford college. It blended private funds with requirements that students receiving “last dollar” benefits (tuition expenses remaining after grants, scholarships and personal resources were used up) would be guided by volunteer mentors through regular consultations and planning sessions. If the students didn’t meet certain minimum performance standards, the mentoring stopped and so did the money.

This was a local response to the pitiful results, in general, that community college students were obtaining. Barely 20 percent of them obtain their associate’s degree after three years. It’s supposed to take two.

The first year 496 students received tuition assistance, with good results appearing almost immediately. It wasn’t the money – it was the mentoring and the tracking, following, and monitoring that made the difference. Students were, some for the first time, being held personally accountable to a friendly volunteer, along with receiving a financial incentive.

It worked so well that

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Cachet Fades: Hybrid Owners Trading for SUVs

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, April 23, 2015: 

 

2004-2008 Toyota Prius photographed in Bethesd...

Toyota Prius

 

Tuesday’s announcement from Edmunds.com, the car-shopping website, that twice as many EV (electric and hybrid) owners are trading in their cars for gas-guzzling SUVs as they were just two years ago shouldn’t have caught anyone by surprise. The math never really made sense, and with gas prices half what they were two years ago, reality is neutering the “cachet” of owning an “environmentally friendly” automobile.

When gas was $4.67 a gallon in October 2012 it would take five years of gasoline savings to make up the difference between a Toyota Camry LE Hybrid ($28,230) and a Toyota Camry LE ($24,460). But with gas prices half that, it now takes more than 10 years to break even.

Not only is market reality disrupting and removing the “cachet,” it is also

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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.