Sol Sanders | Follow the Money No. 73 | Obama energy strategy: one part black magic, two parts propagandaSubmitted by rcwhalen on 07/02/2011 07:13 -0500
In his June 29th press conference, the President again singled out rebates to push U.S. fossil fuel production in his demand for tax increases for an economy already threatened by double-dip recession. The proposal compounds regulatory mischief: blocking oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico while Chinese and other foreign companies drill off Cuba almost within sight of Florida beaches, forfeiting 250,000 jobs.
In a piece oddly reminiscent to what our friends at Minyanville put up over a year ago, JP Morgan has just released a short report looking at the "Five stages of Greece", a reference to to Kübler-Ross model of Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Supposedly Minyanville's piece didn't get enough billing because despite being spot on, and absolutely correct in every aspect, the world was literally a year behind the curve to appreciate it. The full article can be found here. In the meantime, here is JPM's summary of where Greece was and where it is heading, based on inferences from clinical psychology.
Danger? What danger?
Following the abysmal decision by the Obama administration, presented in IEA letterhead, to release crude stockpiles, the resulting lower prices lasted less than one week, and in the case of gasoline, the price has actually surged way above the decision day fixing. So what is an administration with no credibility to do? Why double down of course, and sell even more crude at firesale prices to the Chinese. Per Reuters: "The International Energy Agency could decide by mid-July whether the release of strategic oil reserves needs to be extended for a month or two, an official said." And there is that transitory word again: "Richard Jones, deputy executive director of the
IEA, said he believed the release would be temporary since demand would
likely drop in the fourth quarter." Well demand may drop, but the last time demand was actually relevant in price discovery was sometime in the 20th century. Welcome to the era of oil prices defined by monetary policy.
This report lays out an investment thesis for gold and one for silver. Various factors lead me to conclude that gold is one investment that you can park for the next ten or twenty years, confident that it will perform well. My timing and logic for both entering and finally exiting gold (and silver) as investments are laid out in the full report. The punchline is this: Gold and silver are not (yet) in bubble territory, and large gains remain, especially if monetary, fiscal, and fundamental supply-and-demand trends remain in play.
More nuclear mishaps?
Perhaps even more than exposing the instability of the worldwide economic ponzi system, so far 2011 has been most remarkable for fully demonstrating the fragility of the global energy complex, which in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear crisis (and the moratorium on nuclear energy in Germany now, and soon other places), and the MENA revolutions, have raised the question of what happens in a world in which crude is getting ever scarcer, while the one main legacy energy alternative, fission-based nuclear power, just took a giant step back. The topic of limitations in conventional and possibilites in alternative energy has gripped the general public's mind to such an extent that Popular Science magazine has dedicated its entire July edition to answering that very critical question. As PopSci says: "Oil’s amazing efficiency is one reason it remains in such high demand, especially for transportation, and it’s also why finding an alternative will be so difficult. But find one we must. We have already burned our way through most of the world’s easy oil. Now we’re drilling for the hard stuff: unconventional resources such as shale and heavy oil that will be more difficult and expensive to discover, extract, and refine. The environmental costs are also on the rise." So what is the existing line up of future alternatives to the current crude oil-dominated energy paradigm. Below we present the complete list.
Russ Certo's Macro Thoughts On Today's Global Coordinated Crude "Rate Cut" And Other "Market Schizophrenia"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 06/23/2011 15:44 -0500
Good afternoon. Quick synopsis of macro-thoughts. I’m not used to writing market comments or market updates anymore given the all things government and policy impacts on markets. It seems too often that it was as simple as the Treasury is selling the Fed is buying. And that was it. Simple. Whatever the reasons, there are implications of today’s bizarre events. There are lots of views which can be observed by schizophrenic price action in markets today. Let me share mine.
Today the Obama administration launched its latest $1 billion "stimulus" in the form of the Emergency Homeowner's Loan Program (EHLP), certainly not to be confused with Homeowner Emergency something something, which would be abbreviated HELP (and would be way too cute). The formal reason for the program is to provide emergency loans to 'homeowners' facing foreclosure, or basically all of them, to help tide them over "a temporary financial crisis", the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has announced. The informal reason is to provide thousands of Americans with a $50,000 recourse and interest-free loan for up to two years (money which will go down to paying down equity an underwater mortgage, and will thus never be repaid), so that earned income, instead of being used to make mortgage payments, will be rerouted into such far more critical capital needs as the latest iPad or buying share ot LNKD at $122. But don't think for a moment that everyone will be able to access this money: "the program is available to homeowners who have seen their incomes fall and who could lose their homes to foreclosure due to circumstances beyond their control, including involuntary unemployment, underemployment, economic conditions or an illness" which, actually in retrospect, is all of them. Well, the effort of getting off one's couch and actually picking up the forms may be unavoidable. Of course, that process in itself may well limit 80% of the eligible participants.
On Friday, the BLS released its monthly state employment and unemployment summary. The Bberg chart below summarizes the results. Bottom line: lots of red, a little green and quite a bit unchanged.
Does it seem like we’ve been here before? A barrel of Brent Crude (the truest indicator of worldwide oil scarcity) sits at $118, up from $75 per barrel in July 2010 – a 57% increase in eleven months. In the U.S., the average price of gasoline is $3.69 per gallon this week, up 37% in the last year and up 100% in the last 30 months. The pundits and politicians are responding predictably. They blame the Libyan revolution, the dreaded speculators and that old fallback – Big Oil. When the Middle East turmoil began in earnest in January, gas prices had already risen 15% in three months, spurred by increased worldwide demand and by Ben Bernanke’s printing press. Congressmen have reacted in their usual kneejerk politically motivated fashion by demanding that supplies be released from the Strategic Oil Reserve. Congress has a little trouble with the concept of “strategic.” They also have difficulty dealing with a reality that has been staring them in the face for decades. Politicians will always disregard prudent, long-term planning for vote-generating talk and gestures.
Did Goldman Just Rip Its HNW and Institutional Clients Once Again? Facebook Growth Slows Pre-IPO, Just As We Warned!Submitted by Reggie Middleton on 06/13/2011 11:08 -0500
Summary: As our research illustrated in explicit detail 5 months ago, Facebook’s growth is slowing after an outrageously rich offering of private shares. Now, I’m sure that GS can put on the ole’ shuck & jive show to garner enough interest to cause an initial IPO pop, but then you are basically gambling on - I mean,,, investing in Goldman’s marketing talents and not the fundamental prospects of Facebook, no?
Sometimes observing the counterclockwise rotation on Jim O'Neill's Koolaid-O-Dispener knob from 10 to 1.5 is the most gratifying thing that can happen to a person. Which is precisely what the most recent weekly report by the man who was sanctimoniously relegated to managing Goldman's most unprofitable division, GSAM, present: a bleak world in which the perpetual twisting of reality by the Man Utd fan has lost all credibility. To wit: "On Thursday lunch time, I joined some Goldman Sachs colleagues for a lunch with some leading macro hedge fund investors, most of which I had enjoyed a similar lunch with last October. The mood this time couldn't be more different. I guess it is kind of understandable given the recent run of data, the markets and the apparent policy impasse in DC on fiscal matters. But it seemed to me it was all a bit over the top. The general mood around that lunch table was gloomy, whether it was about the US, Europe or China, both with respect to data and policy options. I was regarded as a raving lunatic for suggesting it was possible that US unemployment might fall below 6 pct by the end of 2013." Hmm, whoever could possibly conceive of the man whose predictive track record is only better to DB's Joe Lavorgna, as a raving lunatic. Anyway, more importantly, even O'Neill is now forced to admit that in the off case that he has OD'ed on the Keynesian-spiked red substance, that the Fed will have no choice but to launch into another round of easing, something which is pretty much a given for everyone else, and would indicate that the US economic depression, which started almost 4 years ago never ended, but was briefly interrupted by bear market rallies inspired by dollar dilution: "while a QE3 would clearly involve “externalities,” it seems obvious to me that if the recent weak US data is for real, then there is a good chance that the Fed would deliver on something more." Naturally O'Neill then goes on to explain why even a negative GDP print which may be in the cards for Q3 is absolutely nothing to worry about. Lastly, there is always next year's Champions' League for Manchester United...
There is a great deal of uncertainty among investors about what the future of the U.S. economy may look like – so I decided to take a stab at what’s likely to happen over the next 20 years. That's enough time for a child to grow up and mature, and it's long enough for major trends to develop and make themselves felt. I’ll confine myself to areas that are, as the benighted Rumsfeld might have observed, “known unknowns.” I don’t want to deal with possibilities of the deus ex machina sort. So we’ll rule out natural events like a super-volcano eruption, an asteroid strike, a new ice age, global warming, and the like. Although all these things absolutely will occur sometime in the future, the timing is very uncertain – at least from the perspective of one human lifespan. It’s pointless dealing with geological time and astronomical probability here. And, more important, there’s absolutely nothing we can do about such things. So let’s limit ourselves to the possibilities presented by human action. They're plenty weird and scary, and unpredictable enough.