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: Free Market

Latest NFIB Report Confirms Robust Health of U.S. Economy

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

Just when concerns over the future of the U.S. economy have reached fever pitch thanks to the recent volatility on Wall Street, along comes the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) to calm those concerns. Its October report, “Small Business Economic Trends”, was summed up thus:

Overall, small businesses continue to support the 3 percent plus growth of the economy and add significant numbers of new workers to the employment pool.

 

The percent of owners with one or more unfilled openings is at a 45 year record high level.

 

Employment is growing faster than the population (210,000 per month this year to date), so the gains in jobs are being “fueled” in part by increased labor force participation.

 

Consumer optimism is also running at near-record levels, supported by rising wages and plentiful job openings.

After reviewing the numbers in each category (from “plans to increase employment” to “earnings trends”), the authors of the study concluded: “Bottom line, the October report sets the stage for solid growth in the economy and in employment in the fourth quarter, while inflation and interest rates remain historically tame. Small businesses are moving the economy forward.”

Indeed they are. The NFIB boasts membership of 325,000 small business owners, reflective of the estimated 28 million small-to-medium-sized businesses in the United States with fewer than 500 employees. That’s compared to about 20,000 companies with 500 employees or more.

And they swing a big hammer.

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OPEC: Do “Whatever it Takes” to Balance Oil Market

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

Following the emergency meeting attended over the weekend by members of the OPEC cartel and its non-members in Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said “We need to do whatever it takes to balance the oil market.” That goal is indicative of OPEC’s increasing nervousness that it is running out of options to counter increasing U.S. oil production. Last month, the EIA (Energy Information Administration) announced that the United States now leads the world in crude oil production, ahead of both Saudi Arabia and Russia.

For many years, the cartel was able to dictate oil policy and prices globally, bending the world oil markets to the cartel’s needs and purposes. Ten years ago,

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OPEC is in a Pickle, Thanks to U.S. Oil Producers

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

In this space a week ago, this writer panned King Hubbard’s “Peak Oil” theory as fracking technology and favorable market conditions for U.S. producers continued to drive world crude oil prices lower. In early October, the price of oil for November delivery was over $76 a barrel. At the market close on Friday, November 2, the price for December delivery was below $63, pushing the oil market close to bear market territory.

The oil market continued its remarkable decline, with December oil futures trading at the close on Friday, November 9, below $60 a barrel.

This has gotten the attention of the oil ministers of OPEC and its hangers-on (like Russia and Oman), and on Saturday they held an emergency meeting in Abu Dhabi, UAE to see what could be done to stop the decline. On Sunday, Saudi Arabia’s oil minister told Oman’s oil minister that, come December, the cartel will cut oil production by a million barrels a day.

Everything was running along smoothly right up through August.

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U.S. Officially the World’s Largest Crude Oil Producer

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, November 5, 2018: 

In an interview with CNNMoney in June, Pioneer Natural Resources Chairman Scott Sheffield said he expected U.S. crude oil production to surpass 11 million barrels a day by this fall, making the United States the world’s top oil producer. Right on schedule the Energy Information Administration announced on Thursday that the U.S. oil industry produced 11.3 million barrels of crude oil a day during August, an increase of 416,000 barrels from the previous month and topping production from Saudi Arabia and Russia. That level of crude oil production is more than 2 million barrels a day ahead of August 2017, the largest increase over any 12-month period in U.S. history.

Sheffield told CNNMoney that “we’ll be at 13 [million] very quickly” and predicted that that number could jump to 15 million in a very few years.

On Wednesday U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told Fox News that officially “today we are the largest oil and gas producer on the face of the planet, rolling through 11 million … on our way to 14.”

In less than 10 years, thanks largely to the development of, and continued improvement to, fracking technology, U.S. crude oil production has more than doubled, from 5 million bpd (barrels per day) in 2008 to more than 11 million today.

This has immediate as well as long-term ramifications that extend far beyond gas prices at the pump.

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So Much for King Hubbard’s “Peak Oil” Theory

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, November 5, 2018: 

When M. King Hubbard concluded in 1956 that the world would shortly run out of oil, his theory was adopted by environmentalists and government meddlers as the basis for interference in the energy business.

Hubbard’s theory initially predicted that U.S. crude oil production would peak at around 1970. Revisions to the theory pushed the peak date out to 2000 when U.S. crude would hit 12.5 billion barrels per year and then start its inevitable and irreversible decline.

For 2018, U.S. crude oil production will hit 30 billion barrels. So much for Hubbard’s “peak oil” predictions.

But, as Eric Peters (who blogs at EricPetersAutos.com) laments, government interference based on the discredited “peak oil” theory remains firmly in place:

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White House Issues Attack on Socialism in Response to Sanders’ “Medicare for All”

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, October 26, 2018: 

It’s highly unlikely that Harvard-trained economist Justin Wolfers has ever been to Caracas, Venezuela. It’s also unlikely that he took the time to read the 72-page report “The Opportunity Costs of Socialism” issued by President Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) explaining the dangers in enacting Bernie Sanders’ socialist healthcare takeover called “Medicare for All.” But he has an opinion, nevertheless: he called it “dreck” in his tweet: “For several generations the CEA harnessed the best and brightest to serve their country, ensuring White House policy was informed by modern [i.e., Keynesian] economic thinking. It’s sad to see [the present Trump CEA] debase that tradition, spending their time on this dreck.”

Merriam-Webster offers various synonyms for “dreck,” including chaff, deadwood, debris, dross, dust, garbage, junk, litter, offal, refuse, riffraff, rubbish, scrap, trash, truck, and waste. In other words, Wolfer doesn’t think much of the CEA’s effort.

On the other hand,

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Think Amazon’s “Fulfillment Centers” are High Tech? Try Blimps and Drones!

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, October 19, 2018: 

Over the last two or three years, tens of thousands of people have watched YouTube videos (see Sources) of the unbelievable technology that companies like Amazon and British online grocery company Ocado are using to cut delivery costs and times for their customers. Each of Amazon’s “fulfillment centers” ships upwards of a million orders every single day, with nary a human in sight.

Give Amazon credit. It saw the technology it would need as far back as 2012 when they bought Kiva Systems, the developer of the little Kiva robots that look like oversized Roombas. Kiva was leasing their robots and their technology to companies like The Gap, Walgreens, Staples, Office Depot, Crate & Barrel, and Saks 5th Avenue. But when those leases ended, Amazon didn’t renew them. It wanted the Kiva technology for itself.

Today, in its more than 100 massive distribution or “fulfillment” centers, there are hundreds of thousands of Kiva robots doing the work humans used to do just a few years ago.

The million-square-foot fulfillment center in Baltimore is typical, as Christopher Mims explained in The Wall Street Journal:

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Amazon Robotics Is Automating Everything

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, October 18, 2018:  

When Amazon, the largest Internet retailer in the world, purchased Kiva Systems in 2012, it paid almost a billion dollars for it; and it transformed, and continues to transform, the company. Amazon wanted the technology behind the Kiva robots that were previously being used by The Gap, Walgreens, Staples, Office Depot, Crate & Barrel, and Saks 5th Avenue. When the contracts with those companies ran out Amazon didn’t renew them.

It wanted Kiva’s technology for itself.

Today, in its more than 100 massive distribution or “fulfillment” centers, there are hundreds of thousands of Kiva robots doing the work humans used to do just a few years ago. There are YouTube videos depicting this transformation from human “pickers” to robotic pickers.

The million-square-foot fulfillment center in Baltimore is typical, as Christopher Mims explained in the Wall Street Journal:

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White House Forecasts 3.5 Percent GDP Growth in Third Quarter

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, September 5, 2018: 

Kevin Hassett, chairman of President Trump’s Council of Economic Advisors, said on the Fox News program “Countdown to the Closing Bell” on Tuesday that “three and a half [percent annualized GDP growth in the third quarter] is looking like a pretty comfortable number right now,” but added, “I would hope it would come in above that.”

It certainly could, and it might even hit five percent GDP growth in the second half of the year. According to the Atlanta Federal Reserve’s forecast model, GDPNow, third-quarter growth is estimated to be 4.4 percent, with previous weekly forecasts ranging from 4.6 percent to 5.0 percent.

Even those could be too conservative.

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Ivanka Has Drunk the Washington Kool-Aid

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, September 5, 2018: 

A White House official described the transformation of the president’s first daughter from a normal, intelligent common-sense individual into a socialist. While on the campaign trail with her father:

She would meet with moms who wanted to support their family but didn’t either have a skill set or wanted to go back into the workforce [but] weren’t sure how to find a job.

 

She met dads who wanted to earn wages where they could support their families but didn’t have the right skills.

 

She spent two years on the campaign trail and heard firsthand how people felt like they were the forgotten man or woman and how nobody was looking out for them.

 

That really resonated with her.

And so, unencumbered with any understanding of or commitment to Constitutional limitations on such things as federally funded job training programs, she pushed her father and members of Congress to take taxpayer money and spend it on those “forgotten” men and women she felt sorry for.

It’s called the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act,

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The Trump-Juncker “Deal” Isn’t Such a Great Deal

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, July 26, 2018:  

Following the issuance of the joint U.S.-EU statement after the meeting on Wednesday between President Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Juncker was understandably delighted: “When I was invited by the president to the White House, I had one intention: I had the intention to make a deal today. And we made a deal today.”

Except that the deal Juncker was celebrating had little to do with paper promises to cut tariffs and reduce trade barriers, and everything to do with persuading Trump to agree to “reform” the World Trade Organization (WTO). From the joint statement:

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EIA: U.S. Shortly to Become “the World’s Leading Producer of Crude Oil”

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, July 11, 2018:

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) proclaimed on Tuesday that, if its forecasts are correct, “the United States will average nearly 12 million barrels a day (mbd) … in 2019 … mak[ing] the U.S. the world’s leading producer of crude [oil].”

Those forecasts could understate the U.S. oil industry’s production, as it builds into its calculations the present bottlenecks of pipeline capacity, being experienced especially in the Permian Basin.

One month ago, IHS Markit, the global information marketplace, focused on what’s happening in the Permian Basin and concluded that, even with those bottlenecks currently slowing the flow of crude from wellheads to refineries along the Gulf Coast, it expects a “stunning” increase in production there between now and 2023. Total crude-oil production will nearly double over that time to 5.4 mbd once the 41,000 new wells and $308 billion in new investment have been completed. Said Daniel Yergin, IHS Markit’s vice chairman: “In the past 24 months, production from just this one region — the Permian — has grown far more than any other entire country in the world. Add in another 3 mbd by 2023 — more than the total present-day production of Kuwait — and you have a level of production that exceeds the current production of every OPEC nation, except Saudi Arabia.”

One key assumption IHS Markit is making is that oil prices will stay around $60 a barrel or higher. And its forecast is “far from a best case” scenario, according to Raoul LeBlanc, HIS Markit’s executive director, who added, “That the outlook still expects the Permian to exceed existing (and already lofty) expectations speaks to the region’s unique and growing prominence in the world’s oil market. The level of growth — from 0.92 mbd in 2010 to 5.4 mbd in 2023 — is truly stunning.

The New American made just such a prediction about the U.S. oil industry way back in 1990, as we noted in a 2015 article:

Keep reading…

U.S. Crude Oil Production Growing so Rapidly Even Insiders Can’t Keep Up

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, July 4, 2018:  

Scott Sheffield, the Chairman of Pioneer Natural Resources, was interviewed by CNNMoney on June 20. At that moment in time, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (IEA), the U.S. oil industry was pumping 10.3 million barrels a day (bpd). By the time the interview ended and the article was published, the latest report for that week on U.S. crude oil production showed Sheffield and CNNMoney already dreadfully out of touch: U.S. production that week topped 10.9 million bpd, with little to keep new records from being set on a weekly basis going forward.

Sheffield, the head of an oil company with revenues exceeding $5 billion and assets in recoverable oil reserves approaching $20 billion, went on to say that he expects U.S. crude oil production to surpass 11 million bpd “within the next three or four months.” It looks like that milestone will be exceeded this month. He went on to predict that,

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OPEC is Losing Its MoJo

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, June 25, 2018:  

It’s premature to consider the weekend meeting of OPEC in Vienna as the cartel’s final death rattle. However, it’s clear that its effort to end its production cut agreement amounted to little more than birthing a gnat.

The meeting was supposed to be contentious, with Iran, Libya, and Venezuela promising to scuttle any agreement to raise crude oil production. Oil ministers arrived in Vienna days before the official opening in order to quell that opposition and enlist support. Investors anxiously waited for the final announcement, ready to trade on the news.

Most expected the cartel to end the agreement by promising to raise production by a million barrels of oil a day, reversing the 1.8 million bpd production cut agreement that was installed in January 2017. But after all was said and done, the net “effective” increase is only about 600,000, and that agreement hadn’t been inked by the end of the meeting.

Call it a relief rally:

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Crude Oil Price Rise in Wake of OPEC Agreement Likely to be Short-lived

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Sunday, June 24, 2018:  

Crude oil prices rose nearly five-percent in a single day Friday, when OPEC, meeting in Vienna, failed to raise production as much as many feared.

The last time the price of crude oil for future delivery jumped this much was when OPEC announced its decision in November 2016 to cut production. That agreement, met at the time with much skepticism that the cartel could enforce it, was to remove about 1.8 million barrels a day of world supplies. Trading at $50 a barrel in early November 2016, crude oil for future delivery jumped to $57 a barrel by January 1, 2016.

Then reality, helped along by U.S. share producers, set in, with new supplies pushing crude oil futures down to $45 a barrel by July 2016.

The same scenario could play out once again:

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Latest Drop in Oil Prices Puts OPEC in a Bind

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, May 30, 2018:

Within minutes of comments made by Saudi Arabia’s oil minister on Friday, crude oil prices for present and future delivery dropped like a stone. By the end of trading on Tuesday, crude oil had lost more than six percent of its value, ending just above $65 a barrel, down from over $70.

What spooked the markets were these comments from energy minister Khalid Al-Falih, made during a panel discussion on energy on Friday:

Keep reading…

Merrill Lynch Sees “Risk” of $100 Oil in 2019, Thanks to Iran Sanctions

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, May 11, 2018: 

Francisco Blanch, a commodity expert at Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch, wrote Wednesday that his team of prognosticators “see a risk of $100 a barrel of oil next year,” adding that it could happen sooner: “We are concerned that these market dynamics could unfold over a shorter time-frame.”

Those “market dynamics” no doubt cause forecasters such as Blanch many sleepless nights, trying to sort them all out in time to write about them for his clients. First, of course, is President Trump’s cancelling of the Obama-era nuclear deal and promising not only to reapply the previous sanctions (which took one million barrels of oil off the world market every day) but to ramp them up.

Next is global economic growth, which is estimated to increase world demand for oil and its derivatives by at least 1.5 million bpd next year. Then there’s Venezuela, under the control of Marxist Nicolas Maduro, who has decimated his country’s oil production, with further reductions of 500,000 barrels a day likely next year.

Despite higher gas prices in the United States, the average increase in cost of a family’s summer vacation is estimated to be around $200, not likely to impact most Americans’ plans.

Next are the bottlenecks in the Permian Basin, where production has outstripped pipeline capacity, at least for the moment.

One market dynamic that might lead to less oil being used is

Keep reading…

Citigroup: U.S. Will Be World’s Largest Oil Exporter by Next Year

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, May 9, 2018: 

Citigroup announced last week that exports of crude and finished oil products from the United States would overtake Saudi Arabia’s by next year. Last week, the U.S. exported 8.3 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude and finished petroleum products. While Saudi Arabia exported 9.3 million bpd of crude and refined products in January, the kingdom plans to cut crude exports to under seven million bpd in May.

With the coming sanctions against Iran thanks to the president’s termination of the Iranian “nuclear deal” on Tuesday, up to another million bpd of crude could be removed from global supply, tilting further the advantage to U.S. producers.

Those sanctions set up the U.S. oil industry to continue to fill the vacuum just as quickly as it can find skilled roughnecks to put up idled rigs and complete wells that were drilled just waiting for an opportunity such as this. Those DUCs — drilled but uncompleted — wells number above 4,000 and are being brought online as quickly as possible. Labor and material bottlenecks are being resolved, and with oil in the high 60s and lifting costs in the low 30s, the boom in U.S. production will continue to set records. All at OPEC’s expense.

OPEC’s problems are largely self-inflicted.

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Job Market Remains Strong; Unemployment Rate at 50-year Low

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, April 26, 2018:  

Unemployment claims for the week ending April 21 fell to new lows, according to the Department of Labor. On Thursday it reported that new claims fell to 209,000, far below forecasters’ expectations of 230,000. It also was the 24th week of jobless claims fewer than 250,000 and the 164th straight week of claims below 300,000.

Even more remarkable is that the last time jobless claims were this low was during the first term of President Richard Nixon, nearly 50 years ago, when the country’s labor force was just 153 million, compared to today’s work force of 162 million. Translation:

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IEA Declares OPEC Has Accomplished Its Mission: Oil Is Now “Balanced”

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, April 23, 2018:

“It’s not for us to declare on behalf of the Vienna agreement [the OPEC production-cut agreement in force since January 2017] that it is ‘mission accomplished’, but if our outlook is accurate, it certainly looks very much like it,” said the International Energy Agency (IEA) last week. Those production cuts, aided by the rolling disaster in Venezuela that continues to take crude oil production off the world market, have, according to the IEA, brought down the world’s crude oil stocks within shouting distance of OPEC’s goal: the five-year average of those stocks.

Compliance among members of the OPEC cartel and its friends (including Russia) has been extraordinarily high, with Saudi Arabia helping things along by cutting its own production far more deeply than the agreement called for.

U.S. production, estimated to approach 11 million barrels a day by the end of the year (twice what it was just seven years ago), has been unable to match the production cuts and worldwide demand, which has greatly surprised to the upside.

Add in concerns that on May 12 the president of the United States will decide

Keep reading…

Many of the articles on Light from the Right first appeared on either The New American or the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor.
Copyright © 2018 Bob Adelmann