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: Oil Prices

Inflation Concerns Unfounded, Wall Street Moves Higher

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, February 14, 2018:  


Money-supply (this is an old chart, but you get the idea)

Once Wall Street traders read beyond the headlines released early Wednesday morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), they reversed the early selloff and bid the market higher.

Those traders were on high alert following the January report that wages had jumped nearly three percent last year. This triggered concerns that inflation was imminent, and that the Fed would institute interest rate increases which would slow the economy.

The headline from the BLS seemed to confirm those concerns:

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Crude Oil Prices Fall Below $60, Traders Expect $55 or Lower

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, February 12, 2018: 

With the price of crude oil for March delivery falling below $60 a barrel last week on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), half of OPEC’s worst nightmare is taking place: Higher oil prices sought by the cartel are bringing on American production at a faster rate than ever before. The other half of the nightmare would be a slowdown in global demand for the stuff.

A sell-off was triggered by an announcement last week from the Energy Information Agency (EIA) that U.S. crude oil production exceeded 10 million barrels per day (bpd) last month — the first time since 1970 — and would continue to set records into 2018. In addition, U.S. oil rig count jumped by 26, the largest jump in a year.

Helping along was the

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With Venezuela’s Marxist Dictator Gone, the Country’s Oil Production Could Soar

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, February 12, 2018: 

By every measure, Venezuela’s Marxist dictator Nicolas Maduro isn’t long for this world. His socialist regime is losing altitude and airspeed at a most satisfyingly horrific rate. His people are starving, as are many in his army. Citizens are fleeing into Colombia to buy food missing from shelves at home, and many are staying there. He’s in default on his estimated $150 billion national debt, and his lenders – China, Russia, and Cuba – appear to be increasingly reluctant to throw good money after bad. American refineries, which have been supporting Maduro through their purchases of his country’s sticky crude, have happily cut them by two-thirds, finding more reliable sources in Canada and Mexico, and as a result helping to starve Maduro into oblivion.

Finally, his precious oil company, PdVSA, which is essentially Maduro’s only oxygen hose, is failing as well. Its production is down to a little over a million barrels a day. In 2014 it produced more than three.

So it’s reasonable to assume, as economist Herb Stein expressed it, that “if something cannot continue, it will end.” And the end of Maduro won’t be lamented.

In a burst of perhaps unjustified optimism,

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Despite Stock Sell-off, Few See Recession

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, February 9, 2018: 

Barbara Friedberg must be feeling pretty good right about now. Last October she made “10 Bold Stock Market Predictions for 2018,” and already she is scoring five out of 10:

Value stocks will triumph;

Cash will be king;

Inflation will inch up;

Market volatility will return; and

Bonds will offer higher yields.

The jury is still out on her prediction that “the Bull Market [in stocks] will end in 2018.”

Friedberg is no lightweight. She is a former portfolio manager and has taught finance and investments at several universities. She authored a popular book in 2014, How to Get Rich Without Winning the Lottery.

Despite the mantra that stocks’ performance is often a harbinger for future economic performance, few at present agree with her about the bull market in stocks being over.

The sell-off (which appears to be continuing as this is being written) in stocks is impressive. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA, or The Dow) has lost 3,227 points since its high on January 26, or 12 percent, while the S&P 500 Index (SPX) has dropped by 290 points, or 10 percent, since then as well. This is into “correction” territory and should be drawing negative outlooks on the future of the U.S. economy from every quarter.

But they can’t be found. Aside from perma-bears Michael Snyder and David Stockman, few of the usual suspects can be found who agree with Friedberg. When the Wall Street Journal polled its economists, they remained adamant about the health of the economy: GDP will continue to grow and unemployment will continue to drop:

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U.S. Oil Production Will Soon Overtake Saudi Arabia’s

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, January 22, 2018:

Fatih Birol, head of the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA), told a congressional committee last week, “What we see is a result of the shale revolution [fracking]. The U.S. is becoming the undisputed leader of oil and gas production worldwide. [U.S.] oil production is growing very strongly and will continue to grow. We think that this growth is unprecedented [both in the] size of the growth and the pace of the growth.”

In 1973, Saudi Arabia punished U.S. citizens with an oil embargo in retaliation for the U.S. government’s support for Israel during the Yom Kippur War. It could do so because it held the biggest hammer: Saudi Arabia controlled the world’s largest reserves of crude oil and the kingdom. Within months, the price of oil quadrupled in the United States, resulting in shortages and rationing. Gas stations were closed, and when they reopened they were forced to restrict gasoline purchases to “odd” and “even” days depending upon their customers’ license plate numbers. The federal government imposed “double-nickel” (55 mph) speed limits on highways, and experimented with “daylight saving” time in order to reduce the impact of the embargo.

Those days are long gone and not likely ever to return. Saudi Arabia and its OPEC cartel are slowly being reduced to bit players in the global energy market. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman saw that coming more than two years ago when he announced

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Record Bullish Bets on Crude Oil Raising Red Flags

OPEC countries

OPEC countries

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, January 15, 2018: 

Traders in oil futures have just set a new record: The bets they have placed that crude oil will move even higher just set a world record. As of last week, there were 432,000 net long positions reflecting that optimism. That optimism could be short-lived. As analysts from JBC Energy consulting told its clients on Monday: “From a fundamental perspective, the surge in U.S. managed money raises a clear red flag for us.”

Since the low in June, the price for the future delivery of U.S. crude oil is up almost 50 percent, from $44 a barrel to $64 on Friday. In London, Brent crude traded above $70 for the first time since December 2014.

Their optimism is based on indisputable facts.

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Crude Oil Price Outlook: Back to the ’40s?

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, December 26, 2017:

English: Flag of the Organization of Petroleum...

The same day that OPEC announced it would be extending its production cut agreement through the end of next year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) announced that U.S. crude oil production jumped an astonishing 290,000 barrels per day from August levels.

Oil traders yawned and drove the price of crude higher. After all, it was a one-month spike, and compliance among both OPEC members and non-members remained surprisingly high. The agreement was taking crude oil off the market faster than producers were adding it. Voila! Increased demand coupled with decreased supply equals higher prices. Futures moved higher with Brent (prices set in London) moving past $62 a barrel with West Texas Intermediate (WTI, prices set in Cushing, Oklahoma) approaching $60.

Those traders were happy to ignore the increase in rig counts in the United States, and the more than 1,000 new horizontal wells being developed as a result — the highest seen since March 2015.

But all three official observers of the world’s crude oil market had a surprise waiting:

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The New York Times Masks the Truth in Venezuela

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, December 20, 2017:

English: The New York Times building in New Yo...

After five months and 5,000 words, the journalists at the New York Times refused to use the word “socialism” as the cause of the horrors they uncovered in Venezuela. Instead, Venezuela’s problems are the result of years of “economic mismanagement” instead.

What they found was horrific, and more than sufficient to prove the point: socialism destroys, maims, and kills. Its worst atrocities are inflicted on the defenseless: the elderly and the very young. The intrepid journalists focused on the latter, and what they found was predictable and heartrending: babies in Venezuela are dying of malnutrition at rates seen only in refugee and concentration camps. Emergency rooms are filled to overflowing by mothers with starving infants at their breasts while others are being turned away. Doctors told the journos that children arrive at the hospitals weighing the same as when they were born. Infant mortality rates are soaring, and there’s little doctors can do about it. Said the authors: “The statistics that have come out are staggering. In the Ministry of Health’s 2015 report, the mortality rate for children under four weeks old had increased a hundredfold [while] maternal mortality had increased nearly fivefold.”

Matt Vespa suffers under no such confusion about the cause of what’s happening there:

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Venezuela’s Socialism Is Killing Its Children; NY Times Blames “Economic Mismanagement”

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, December 19, 2017:

For five months investigative journalists from the New York Times sought and uncovered the truth about Nicolas Maduro’s socialist paradise in Venezuela, and then blamed the horror they found on “economic mismanagement.” This is a lie of the first magnitude, as expressed by Alfred Lord Tennyson: “A lie which is half a truth is ever the blackest of lies.”

The half-truth referred to by Tennyson assumes that the Times got their story at least half right:

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IEA: United States to Dominate World Energy Market Within Eight Years

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

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the growth of energy production in the United States, doubling as it has in just the last eight years, is expected to double again in the next eight. Authors of the IEA’s annual World Energy Outlook report released on Tuesday could hardly contain their surprise: “A remarkable ability to unlock new resources cost-effectively pushes combined United States oil and gas output to a level 50% higher than any other country ever managed; already a net exporter of [natural] gas, the U.S. becomes a net exporter of oil in the late 2020s. In our projections … the rise in US tight oil output [fracking] from 2010 to 2025 would match the highest maintained period of oil output growth by a single country in the history of oil markets.”

The U.S. production increase makes up an astonishing

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Venezuela Falling Behind on Its Payments, Putting Maduro’s Regime in Jeopardy

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, October 23, 2017: 

English: "El Palito" - PDVSA Refiner...

PDVSA Refinery, Venezuela

Venezuela failed to make five payments due on its debt last week in order to make a big payment on Friday and another one next Thursday. The $350 million in missed payments each have a 30-day grace period, while Friday’s payment of nearly $1 billion and another one of $1.2 billion due the following Thursday must be paid on time. Another $1.2 billion of principal and interest payments are due before the end of the year.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is running out of both time and money. With less than $10 billion in foreign reserves (and much of it illiquid), he is scrambling to keep from defaulting.

His state-owned energy company, PDVSA, is so far behind on payments to storage terminals in the Caribbean that it is being barred from using them until they get caught up. One such facility, NuStar’s Statia facility on the island of St. Eustatius, is owed $26 million by PDVSA, not having received any payments for nearly a year. PDVSA set up a payment schedule with NuStar but then missed the first payment. So NuStar is holding an auction of Venezuela crude that’s currently in storage in order to make up for those missed payments.

On top of that, quality control issues are plaguing PDVSA, thanks to shoddy performance by its workers, resulting in crude that is contaminated with water, soil, and other minerals. The situation has deteriorated over the past two years to such a point that refineries aren’t taking shipments, or are demanding discounts to offset the additional costs of refining the crude. One PDVSA worker told Reuters news agency, “We’re refitting chemical injection ports, recouping pumps and storage tanks but without chemicals, we can’t do anything.” Those chemicals cost money that PDVSA doesn’t have, and its suppliers aren’t willing to extend any further credit.

So far this year, Phillips 66 has canceled at least eight shipments due to the low quality of Venezuela’s crude being shipped to their refineries.

PDVSA provides 90 percent of Maduro’s revenues. The combination of low oil prices, expert workers at PDVSA being replaced two years ago with his political cronies, the resultant incompetence and corner-cutting to keep costs down, the barring by storage facilities of taking the company’s crude, the necessity of making those payments in the next two weeks, and the sanctions by the United States inhibiting Maduro and his people from accessing crucial funds are creating severe problems for him. The problems border on existential, with observers now estimating the chances of default somewhere between 15 and 40 percent before the end of the year. Said Ray Zucaro, chief investment officer at RVX Asset Management, Maduro’s “getting close to the edge of not [having] enough money in the checking account to pay the bills.”

There is one beneficiary enjoying Maduro’s problems: Russia. It is continuing to provide credit to the staggering and faltering communist regime in exchange for precious oil reserves. Helma Croft, global head of commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets, explained the pickle Maduro is in and how Russia is taking advantage of it: “While it makes sense [for Maduro] to preserve as much cash to avoid default, [he] will not be able to do it without Russia. So the question will be: how much acreage will this cost [him]? Rosneft [Russia’s state-owned energy company] is acquiring Venezuela assets at fire sale prices.”

U.S. Condemns Venezuela’s Election

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, October 17, 2017:

On Monday, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert stated the U.S. government’s official position on Venezuela’s Sunday elections: “We condemn the lack of free and fair elections yesterday in Venezuela. The voice of the Venezuelan people was not heard.” She added that there had been “last minute changes to polling station locations without public notice, manipulation of ballot layouts, and limited availability of voting machines in opposition neighborhoods.” In addition, independent credible outside monitors of the elections were prohibited from overseeing the election process by Marxist dictator Nicolás Maduro’s (shown) regime.

Independent polls showed that opposition candidates in the 23 state mayoral elections should have crushed the regime’s candidates, but instead

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Latest Report: Crude Won’t See $60 a Barrel For at Least a Year

English: Flag of the Organization of Petroleum...

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, October 13, 2017:

According to oil seers, there are two magic numbers: the five-year average of five billion barrels in crude-oil reserves held around the world in salt caverns, oil tankers, and oil storage tanks; and $60 for a barrel of oil, priced in London.

In January there were 318 million barrels of “surplus” crude above that five-year average, but by the end of September that number had dropped to “only” 170 million barrels of “surplus.” Oil traders saw the trend toward “balance” — that magical, mystical, and entirely theoretical moment when worldwide crude-oil inventories would hit that five billion barrel marker and thus be “balanced” — and started getting excited. Placing bets that oil prices would move higher as worldwide inventories continued to drop, they placed bullish bets in the futures market, which hit new highs in September.

But according to the monthly report issued by the International Energy Agency (EIA) on Thursday, that’s likely to be as good as it’s going to get:

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OPEC is Textbook Example of Classic Cartel

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, October 11, 2017:

the new OPEC headquarters in Vienna Español: S...

OPEC headquarters in Vienna

Free market economists have long considered OPEC as a textbook example of the anti-free market cartel. Its mission statement confirms it:

To coordinate and unify the petroleum policies of its member countries and ensure the stabilization of oil markets, in order to secure an efficient, economic, and regular supply of petroleum to consumers, a steady income to producers, and a fair return on capital for those investing in the petroleum industry.

This is of course the “siren song” of every cartel:

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OPEC Asks U.S. Oil Industry to Join Its Cartel

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, October 10, 2017:

At a speech in New Delhi on Sunday, OPEC’s Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo offered an olive branch to the American oil industry: Come join our cartel and together we’ll keep prices up and everyone profitable. These are his exact words:

We urge our friends [we’re all friends, now] in the shale basins of North America to take this shared responsibility with all [the] seriousness it deserves, as one of the key lessons learned from the current unique supply-driven cycle.


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Hurricanes Hammer OPEC as Well

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, September 11, 2017: 

English: Flag of the Organization of Petroleum...

Estimates are that Hurricane Irma knocked out the power to nearly six million Floridians’ homes and businesses, while both Harvey and Irma have either destroyed or heavily damaged 300,000 homes in Texas and hundreds of thousands more in Florida. Further estimates are that these two massive storms have reduced demand for oil by nearly a million barrels a day.

This is being reflected in the price of NYMEX (New York Mercantile Exchange) crude oil dropping to $47 a barrel early Monday. Last Wednesday crude was selling at more than $49.

Part of the problem facing OPEC and its grand plan to cut production to raise oil prices was its assumption that

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OPEC Leaving Its Options “Open” as Production Cuts Fail to Raise Oil Prices

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, August 25, 2017:  

Even the subtitle was misleading: “JMMC Reports Positive Indications of Oil Market Rebalancing in Progress.” That is the subtitle of the report issued on Thursday by OPEC’s Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee, the toothless enforcement arm of OPEC.

OPEC is down to its last option: verbiage. The JMMC reported that everything is rosy:

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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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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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Oil Expert Yardeni: OPEC Should Break Agreement, Produce All It Can

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, June 21, 2017: 

In Dr. Ed’s Blog, Ed Yardeni, for 25 years one of the industry’s leading energy strategists, proposed on Wednesday that OPEC should consider going back to Plan A to fund members’ treasuries as Plan B clearly isn’t working:

Rather than [attempting to prop] up the price [of crude oil], maybe OPEC should sell as much of their oil as they can at lower prices to slow down the pace of technological innovation that may eventually put them out of business.

Plan A, it will be remembered,

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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.