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MOSLER'S LAW: There is no financial crisis so deep that a sufficiently large tax cut or spending increase cannot deal with it.

Archive for the 'Oil' Category

Saudis cut price- target could be $75?

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 10th September 2014

I missed this when it first came out a few days ago.

This could be serious, as the plan could be to cut price low enough to put the higher priced producers out of business, which they can easily do. This includes all the shale and tar sands producers, for example.

And once that happens, with $trillions(?) of lost investments, it will be that much more difficult to raise capital to restart that production after the Saudis subsequently raise prices to the $150 level?

This article on the price cuts misses the above point entirely:

Saudi Arabia cuts October crude prices

By By Anjli Raval, Oil and Gas Correspondent

Sept 5 (FT) — Saudi Arabia cut October selling prices this week to customers in Asia, Europe and the US, in a sign that Opec’s largest producer is unlikely to curb production even amid an excess of crude oil supply.

The state-owned oil company Aramco reduced prices for its main oil export grade – Arab Light – to Asia by $1.70 a barrel in October from September, to a discount of 5 cents a barrel to the Oman-Dubai benchmark.

Prices to the Mediterranean fell by 95 cents a barrel, to a discount of $3.20 against the Brent benchmark. The same grade going to the US and northwest Europe declined by 40 and 70 cents respectively to the Argus Sour Crude Index and Brent benchmarks.

All four regions saw prices reach levels last seen in November 2010. Heavier grades also posted decreases.

“While the cuts were widely expected, the magnitude took a few in the market by surprise,” said Amrita Sen, at London-based consultancy Energy Aspects.

“For the Saudis, market share has really become an issue over the last year, so this is a signal that they are not just going to cut production because they have done so in the last few years,” she added.

Saudi Arabia has lost significant market share – particularly in Asia and the Mediterranean – to Iraq and Iran, both of which have been heavily discounting their crude. It is also increasingly competing with Kuwait and the UAE.

Although some analysts have said the lowering of prices for the US has been in response to growing shale oil production, others believe it is rather to do with low cost Opec producers seeking to expand their footing in the region.

“The overall reductions indicate they [Saudi Arabia] see a slack market and weak refining margins, meaning they have to discount more – particularly in Asia – to ensure their crude is taken,” said Gareth Lewis-Davies at BNP Paribas.

ICE October Brent, which hit $115 a barrel in mid-June, fell close to the $100 a barrel mark this week amid an oil glut.

Geopolitical tensions, from Libya to Iraq, have failed to disrupt production meaningfully. Moreover, excess supplies in the Atlantic Basin and North Sea, amid weak European demand, have only compounded the effect of North American production increases.

Market participants believe Saudi Arabia will cut production, influence prices and balance the market in times of oversupply, particularly since signalling its preferred price range of about $100 a barrel.

Production stands at close to 10m barrels a day, with 7m-8m b/d allocated for export.

As yet unhindered global production, combined with Saudi Arabia’s reluctance to cut output, bar seasonal fluctuations, could mean the price of oil falls further.

However, Abhishek Deshpande, analyst at Natixis, said the country was too reliant on oil revenues not to step in. “A greater number of exports at lower and lower prices doesn’t make sense.”

Even so, Mr Lewis-Davies added that when Saudi Arabia had sought to cut production in the past, regaining market share without disturbing the price had been problematic. There are also questions as to how much of the Gulf nation will be willing to lower output, especially if other Opec members do not follow suit.

Posted in Comodities, Oil | No Comments »

Saudi oil output

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 5th August 2014

Still price setter after all these years.

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saudi oil output

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 1st April 2014

Still strong net demand for Saudi crude so prices don’t go down unless they decide to lower them, etc.

Full size image

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Employment cost index, Personal income, Spending, and Saudi output

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 31st January 2014

Still tame (with a hint of moving up some) particularly in comparison to the last cycle which was considered relatively tame:

Personal Consumption had a nice spike up in November:

But without the income to sustain it? (Ignore the latest yoy data point ‘dip’ as it’s from the spike a year ago. Just look at the last few monthly data points)

Personal income was flat in December while spending was up. Income sluggishness may have been weather related. Personal income was unchanged after rising 0.2 percent in November. Markets expected a 0.2 percent rise. The wages & salaries component posted flat in December, following a 0.5 percent boost the month before.

Personal spending, however, was moderately strong, rising 0.4 percent after a 0.6 percent boost in November. Spending was led by a 1.5 percent jump in nondurables with services gaining 0.4 percent. Durables declined 1.8 percent after a 1.8 percent increase the month before.

The rise in personal consumption was not just price related. Real spending increased 0.2 percent in December after an increase of 0.6 percent in November.

Meanwhile, Saudi oil output, which indicates the net demand for global crude, keeps them in the sweet spot as swing producer/price setter:

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Posted in Employment, Oil | No Comments »

Comments on research report

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 30th August 2013

From DB,
Comments below:

Commentary for friday: the second print on Q2 GDP growth showed a significant upward revision to +2.5% from +1.7% as previously reported. Recall that growth was only +1.1% in Q1.

After the 3rd downward revision

Given that the deflator was revised a tenth higher (0.8% vs. 0.7% as previously reported), the magnitude of the overall revision is even more impressive. Personal consumption was unrevised at +1.8% in Q2,

Down from 2.3% in Q1 if I recall correctly

While business fixed investment was only modestly softer (+4.4% vs. +4.6%). Residential investment was also reduced slightly (+12.9% vs. +13.4%). The big changes to Q2 growth were in inventories and international trade. Inventory accumulation was lifted to $62.6b from $56.7b as first reported, thereby adding 0.6 ppt to growth compared to 0.4 ppt previously.

The question is voluntary to restock from a Q1 dip or sales growth forecast, or involuntary due to lower than expected sales.

In terms of trade, firmer exports and softer imports drove net exports to improve; as a result, the original -0.8 ppt drag from trade was revised up to zero.

Question is whether exports can be sustained through Q3 as the dollar spike vs Japan and then the EM’s hurts ‘competitiveness’

The government drag on Q2 was revised to become slightly larger (-0.2 ppt vs. -0.1 ppt as first reported). Nonetheless, the federal government drag on economic activity has diminished significantly compared to the impact in Q1 (-0.7 ppt) and Q4 2012 (-1.2 ppt). A diminished drag from the public sector should enable overall GDP growth, which was +1.6% year-on-year in Q2, to close the gap with private sector growth, which was +2.5% over the same period.

I see it this way- the govt deficit spending is a net add of spending/income. So with the deficit dropping from 7% of GDP last year to maybe 3% currently, with maybe 2% of the drop from proactive fiscal initiatives, some other agent has to be spending more than his income to sustain sales/incomes etc. If not, output goes unsold/rising inventories and then unproduced. The needed spending to ‘fill the spending gap’ left by govt cutbacks can come from either domestic credit expansion or increased net exports (no resident credit expansion/savings reductions. I don’t detect the domestic credit expansion and net export growth/trade deficit reduction seems likely given the dollar spike and oil price spike?

If we achieve +3.0% growth in the current quarter and +3.5% in Q4, this will push the year-on-year rate to +1.7% in Q3 and +2.5% by yearend. (this is in line with the Fed’s central tendency forecasts, which are due to be updated at the september FOMC meeting.)

In order for our growth forecast to come to fruition, we will need to see a pickup in consumer spending,

Hard to fathom, as personal consumption has been slipping from 2.3 in Q1 to 1.8 in Q2, and walmart and the like sure aren’t seeing any material uptick in sales? Car sales are ok, but further gains from the June high rate seems doubtful as July has already posted a slower annual rate.

homebuilding and business investment relative to first half performance. The first two series are likely to be boosted by sturdier employment gains, and hence faster household income growth.

Seems early Q3 reports show falling mtg purchase applications, home sales falling month to month, and lots of anecdotals showing the spike in mtg rates has slowed things down. So growth from Q2 seems unlikely at this point?

We are confident that the pace of hiring will pick up in the relatively near term, because jobless claims continue to hold near cyclical lows.

New jobs dropped to 160,000 in july, and claims measure people losing their jobs, not new hires. Also, top line growth, the ultimate driver of employment, remains low, so assuming actual productivity hasn’t gone negative a spike in jobs is unlikely?

Given the usefulness of jobless claims as a payroll forecasting tool, it should come as little surprise that they are also significantly correlated with wage and salary growth. In fact, over the past 25 years, the current level of jobless claims has typically coincided with private wage and salary growth above 6% compared to 3.8% in Q2.

As above, claims may have correlated with all that in the past, but the causation isn’t there. Looks to me like claims are more associated with ‘time from the bottom’ as with time after the economy bottoms firings tend to slow, regardless of hiring?

Meanwhile, the third growth driver noted above—business investment—will largely depend on the corporate profit trend. Yesterday’s second print on GDP provided the first look at economy-wide corporate profits, which rose +3.9% in Q2 vs. -1.3% in Q1. Many analysts fretted the decline in profits in Q1, because they tend to drive business investment and hiring plans. We dismissed the Q1 weakness as a temporary development which occurred in lagged response to the growth slowdown in Q4 2012 and Q1 2013. The fact that profits are reaccelerating (+5.0% year-on-year versus +2.1% in Q1) is an encouraging development in this regard.

Profits also are a function of sales, which are a function of ‘deficit spending’ from either govt or other sectors, as previously discussed. And, again, i see no signs of ‘leaping ahead’ in any of those sectors.

Faster GDP growth through yearend should result in even stronger corporate profit growth.

Agreed! But didn’t he just say that the GDP growth would come from business investment that’s a function of profits (and in turn a function of sales/GDP)?

To be sure, the additional growth momentum now evident in the Q2 GDP results makes our 3% target for current quarter growth more easily attainable. –CR

I don’t see how inventory growth is ‘momentum’ and seems there are severe headwinds to Q3 net exports as drivers of growth?

And govt is there with a deficit of only 3% of GDP to help offset the relentless ‘unspent income’/demand leakages inherent in the global institutional structure.

Posted in Comodities, Currencies, Economic Releases, Employment, Fed, GDP, Government Spending, Oil | No Comments »

Oil vaults on refinery shutdown, US oil settles above $106

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 25th August 2013

Yet another stupid headline, seems.
Refiners are buyers of crude…

Oil vaults on refinery shutdown, US oil settles above $106

Posted in Comodities, Oil | No Comments »

Saudi production

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 10th August 2013

Up again indicating higher net demand.
They remain in control of pricing.

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US economy should be growing at 3-4%: Former Fed governor

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 1st August 2013

Says problem is not enough drilling!

US economy should be growing at 3-4%: Former Fed governor

By Katie Holliday

July 31 (Bloomberg) — The U.S. economy has the ability to grow at a rate of 3-4 percent if policy makers removed the constraints obstructing its potential, former Federal governor Robert Heller told CNBC on Thursday.

Heller’s comments follow better-than-expected gross domestic product (GDP) figures on Wednesday, which showed the world’s largest economy expanded 1.7 percent growth in the second quarter from the year before, exceeding expectations of a 1 percent rise and an increase on the first quarter’s downwardly revised 1.1 percent.

“We may be out of the woods, but we are [still] walking in a mud field,” said Heller, who served on the Fed’s board from 1986 to 1989 under President Reagan.

“We are stuck in a range of 1-2 percent growth, which is not where we should be. If you would take some of the constraints off the U.S. economy, it could be growing a lot faster at 3-4 percent,” he added.

Heller said one of the key constraints was restrictions on drilling activity on government-owned land which has prevented oil and gas companies from expanding at the pace they should be.

Posted in GDP, Oil | No Comments »

Saudis still firmly in control of price

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 1st July 2013

Full size image

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The Stockman’s big swinging whip

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 1st April 2013

The Man from Snowy River

By Banjo Paterson

So Clancy rode to wheel them — he was racing on the wing
Where the best and boldest riders take their place,
And he raced his stock-horse past them, and he made the ranges ring
With the stockwhip, as he met them face to face.
Then they halted for a moment, while he swung the dreaded lash,
But they saw their well-loved mountain full in view,
And they charged beneath the stockwhip with a sharp and sudden dash,
And off into the mountain scrub they flew.

Unemployment is everywhere and always a monetary phenomenon, and necessarily a government imposed crime against humanity. The currency is a simple public monopoly.

The dollars to pay taxes, ultimately come from government spending or lending (or counterfeiting…)

Unemployment can only happen when a govt fails to spend enough to cover the tax liabilities it imposed, and any residual desire to save financial assets that are created by the tax and by other govt policy.

Said another way, for any given size government, unemployment is the evidence of over taxation.

Motivation not withstanding, David Stockman has long been aggressively promoting policy that creates and sustains unemployment.

Comments below:

State-Wrecked: The Corruption of Capitalism in America

By David Stockman

March 30 (NYT) — The Dow Jones and Standard & Poors 500 indexes reached record highs on Thursday, having completely erased the losses since the stock markets last peak, in 2007. But instead of cheering, we should be very afraid.

Over the last 13 years, the stock market has twice crashed and touched off a recession: American households lost $5 trillion in the 2000 dot-com bust and more than $7 trillion in the 2007 housing crash. Sooner or later within a few years, I predict this latest Wall Street bubble, inflated by an egregious flood of phony money from the Federal Reserve rather than real economic gains, will explode, too.

Phony money? What else are $US other than credit balances at the Fed or actual cash in circulation? Of course he fails to realize US treasury securities, also known as ‘securities accounts’ by Fed insiders, are likewise nothing more than dollar balances at the Fed, and that QE merely shifts dollar balances at the Fed from securities accounts to reserve accounts. It’s ‘money printing’ only under a narrow enough definition of ‘money’ to not include treasury securities as ‘money’. Additionally, of course, QE removes interest income from the economy, but that’s another story…

Since the S.&P. 500 first reached its current level, in March 2000, the mad money printers at the Federal Reserve have expanded their balance sheet sixfold (to $3.2 trillion from $500 billion).

And also debited/reduced/removed an equal amount of $US from Fed securities accounts. The net ‘dollar printing’ is 0.

Yet during that stretch, economic output has grown by an average of 1.7 percent a year (the slowest since the Civil War); real business investment has crawled forward at only 0.8 percent per year; and the payroll job count has crept up at a negligible 0.1 percent annually. Real median family income growth has dropped 8 percent, and the number of full-time middle class jobs, 6 percent. The real net worth of the bottom 90 percent has dropped by one-fourth. The number of food stamp and disability aid recipients has more than doubled, to 59 million, about one in five Americans.

Yes, and anyone who understood monetary operations knows exactly why QE did not add to sales/output/employment, as explained above.

So the Main Street economy is failing while Washington is piling a soaring debt burden on our descendants,

‘Paying off the debt’ is simply a matter of debiting securities accounts at the Fed and crediting reserve accounts at the Fed. There are no grandchildren or taxpayers involved, except maybe a few to program the computers and polish the floors and do the accounting, etc.

unable to rein in either the warfare state or the welfare state or raise the taxes needed to pay the nations bills.

The nations bills are paid via the Fed crediting member bank accounts on its books. Today’s excess capacity and unemployment means that for the size govt we have we are grossly over taxed, not under taxed.

By default, the Fed has resorted to a radical, uncharted spree of money printing.

As above, ‘money printing’ only under a narrow definition of ‘money’.

But the flood of liquidity, instead of spurring banks to lend and corporations to spend, has stayed trapped in the canyons of Wall Street, where it is inflating yet another unsustainable bubble.

With floating exchange rates, bank liquidity, for all practical purposes, is always unlimited. Banks are constrained by capital and asset regulation, not liquidity.

When it bursts, there will be no new round of bailouts like the ones the banks got in 2008.

There is nothing to ‘burst’ as for all practical purposes liquidity is never a constraint.

Instead, America will descend into an era of zero-sum austerity and virulent political conflict, extinguishing even todays feeble remnants of economic growth.

This dyspeptic prospect results from the fact that we are now state-wrecked. With only brief interruptions, weve had eight decades of increasingly frenetic fiscal and monetary policy activism intended to counter the cyclical bumps and grinds of the free market and its purported tendency to underproduce jobs and economic output. The toll has been heavy.

The currency itself is a simply public monopoly, and the restriction of supply by a monopolist as previously described, is, in this case the cause of unemployment and excess capacity in general.

As the federal government and its central-bank sidekick, the Fed, have groped for one goal after another smoothing out the business cycle, minimizing inflation and unemployment at the same time, rolling out a giant social insurance blanket, promoting homeownership, subsidizing medical care, propping up old industries (agriculture, automobiles) and fostering new ones (clean energy, biotechnology) and, above all, bailing out Wall Street they have now succumbed to overload, overreach and outside capture by powerful interests.

He may have something there!

The modern Keynesian state is broke,

Not applicable. Congress spends simply by having its agent, the tsy, instruct the Fed to credit a member bank’s reserve account.

paralyzed and mired in empty ritual incantations about stimulating demand, even as it fosters a mutant crony capitalism that periodically lavishes the top 1 percent with speculative windfalls.

Some truth there as well!

The culprits are bipartisan, though youd never guess that from the blather that passes for political discourse these days. The state-wreck originated in 1933, when Franklin D. Roosevelt opted for fiat money (currency not fundamentally backed by gold), economic nationalism and capitalist cartels in agriculture and industry.

Under the exigencies of World War II (which did far more to end the Depression than the New Deal did), the state got hugely bloated, but remarkably, the bloat was put into brief remission during a midcentury golden era of sound money and fiscal rectitude with Dwight D. Eisenhower in the White House and William McChesney Martin Jr. at the Fed.

Actually it was the Texas railroad commission pretty much fixing the price of oil at about $3 that did the trick, until the early 1970′s when domestic capacity fell short, and pricing power shifted to the saudis who had other ideas about ‘public purpose’ as they jacked the price up to $40 by 1980.

Then came Lyndon B. Johnsons guns and butter excesses, which were intensified over one perfidious weekend at Camp David, Md., in 1971, when Richard M. Nixon essentially defaulted on the nations debt obligations by finally ending the convertibility of gold to the dollar. That one act arguably a sin graver than Watergate meant the end of national financial discipline and the start of a four-decade spree during which we have lived high on the hog, running a cumulative $8 trillion current-account deficit. In effect, America underwent an internal leveraged buyout, raising our ratio of total debt (public and private) to economic output to about 3.6 from its historic level of about 1.6. Hence the $30 trillion in excess debt (more than half the total debt, $56 trillion) that hangs over the American economy today.

It also happens to equal the ‘savings’ of financial assets of the global economy, with the approximately $16 trillion of treasury securities- $US in ‘savings accounts’ at the Fed- constituting the net savings of $US financial assets of the global economy. And the current low levels of output and high unemployment tell us the ‘debt’ is far below our actual desire to save these financial assets. In other words, for the size government we have, we are grossly over taxed. The deficit needs to be larger, not smaller. We need to either increase spending and/or cut taxes, depending on one’s politics.

This explosion of borrowing was the stepchild of the floating-money contraption deposited in the Nixon White House by Milton Friedman, the supposed hero of free-market economics who in fact sowed the seed for a never-ending expansion of the money supply.

And the never ending expansion of $US global savings desires, including trillions of accumulations in pension funds, IRA’s, etc. Where there are tax advantages to save, as well as trillions in corporate reserves, foreign central bank reserves, etc. etc.

As everyone at the CBO knows, the US govt deficit = global $US net savings of financial assets, to the penny.

The Fed, which celebrates its centenary this year, fueled a roaring inflation in goods and commodities during the 1970s that was brought under control only by the iron resolve of Paul A. Volcker, its chairman from 1979 to 1987.

It was the Saudis hiking price, not the Fed. Note that similar ‘inflation’ hit every nation in the world, regardless of ‘monetary policy’. And it ended a few years after president Carter deregulated natural gas in 1978, which resulted in electric utilities switching out of oil to natural gas, and even OPEC’s cutting of 15 million barrels per day of production failing to stop the collapse of oil prices.

Under his successor, the lapsed hero Alan Greenspan, the Fed dropped Friedmans penurious rules for monetary expansion, keeping interest rates too low for too long and flooding Wall Street with freshly minted cash. What became known as the Greenspan put the implicit assumption that the Fed would step in if asset prices dropped, as they did after the 1987 stock-market crash was reinforced by the Feds unforgivable 1998 bailout of the hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management.

The Fed didn’t bail out LTCM. They hosted a meeting of creditors who took over the positions at prices that generated 25% types of annual returns for themselves.

That Mr. Greenspans loose monetary policies didnt set off inflation was only because domestic prices for goods and labor were crushed by the huge flow of imports from the factories of Asia.

No, because oil prices didn’t go up due to the glut from the deregulation of natural gas .

By offshoring Americas tradable-goods sector, the Fed kept the Consumer Price Index contained, but also permitted the excess liquidity to foster a roaring inflation in financial assets. Mr. Greenspans pandering incited the greatest equity boom in history, with the stock market rising fivefold between the 1987 crash and the 2000 dot-com bust.

No, it wasn’t about Greenspan, it was about the private sector and banking necessarily being pro cyclical. And the severity of the bust was a consequence of the Clinton budget surpluses ‘draining’ net financial assets from the economy, thereby removing the equity that supports the macro credit structure.

Soon Americans stopped saving and consumed everything they earned and all they could borrow. The Asians, burned by their own 1997 financial crisis, were happy to oblige us. They China and Japan above all accumulated huge dollar reserves, transforming their central banks into a string of monetary roach motels where sovereign debt goes in but never comes out. Weve been living on borrowed time and spending Asians borrowed dimes.

Yes, the trade deficit is a benefit that allows us to consume more than we produce for as long as the rest of the world continues to desire to net export to us.

This dynamic reinforced the Reaganite shibboleth that deficits dont matter and the fact that nearly $5 trillion of the nations $12 trillion in publicly held debt is actually sequestered in the vaults of central banks. The destruction of fiscal rectitude under Ronald Reagan one reason I resigned as his budget chief in 1985

I wonder if he’ll ever discover how wrong he’s been, and for a very long time.

was the greatest of his many dramatic acts. It created a template for the Republicans utter abandonment of the balanced-budget policies of Calvin Coolidge and allowed George W. Bush to dive into the deep end, bankrupting the nation

Hadn’t heard about an US bankruptcy filing? Am I missing something?

through two misbegotten and unfinanced wars, a giant expansion of Medicare and a tax-cutting spree for the wealthy that turned K Street lobbyists into the de facto office of national tax policy. In effect, the G.O.P. embraced Keynesianism for the wealthy.

He’s almost convinced me deep down he’s a populist…

The explosion of the housing market, abetted by phony credit ratings, securitization shenanigans and willful malpractice by mortgage lenders, originators and brokers, has been well documented. Less known is the balance-sheet explosion among the top 10 Wall Street banks during the eight years ending in 2008. Though their tiny sliver of equity capital hardly grew, their dependence on unstable hot money soared as the regulatory harness the Glass-Steagall Act had wisely imposed during the Depression was totally dismantled.

Can’t argue with that!

Within weeks of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy in September 2008, Washington, with Wall Streets gun to its head, propped up the remnants of this financial mess in a panic-stricken melee of bailouts and money-printing that is the single most shameful chapter in American financial history.

The shameful part was not making a fiscal adjustment when it all started falling apart. I was calling for a full ‘payroll tax holiday’ back then, for example.

There was never a remote threat of a Great Depression 2.0 or of a financial nuclear winter, contrary to the dire warnings of Ben S. Bernanke, the Fed chairman since 2006. The Great Fear manifested by the stock market plunge when the House voted down the TARP bailout before caving and passing it was purely another Wall Street concoction. Had President Bush and his Goldman Sachs adviser (a k a Treasury Secretary) Henry M. Paulson Jr. stood firm, the crisis would have burned out on its own and meted out to speculators the losses they so richly deserved. The Main Street banking system was never in serious jeopardy, ATMs were not going dark and the money market industry was not imploding.

While the actual policies implemented were far from my first choice, they did keep it from getting a lot worse. Yes, it would have ‘burned out’ as it always has, but via the automatic fiscal stabilizers working to get the deficit high enough to catch the fall. I would argue it would have gotten a lot worse by doing nothing. And, of course, a full payroll tax holiday early on would likely have sustained sales/output/employment as the near ‘normal’ levels of the year before. In other words, Wall Street didn’t have to spill over to Main Street. Wall Street Investors could have taken their lumps without causing main street unemployment to rise.

Instead, the White House, Congress and the Fed, under Mr. Bush and then President Obama, made a series of desperate, reckless maneuvers that were not only unnecessary but ruinous. The auto bailouts, for example, simply shifted jobs around particularly to the aging, electorally vital Rust Belt rather than saving them. The green energy component of Mr. Obamas stimulus was mainly a nearly $1 billion giveaway to crony capitalists, like the venture capitalist John Doerr and the self-proclaimed outer-space visionary Elon Musk, to make new toys for the affluent.

Some good points there. But misses the point that capitalism is about business competing for consumer dollars, with consumer choice deciding who wins and who loses. ‘Creative destruction’ is not about a collapse in aggregate demand that causes sales in general to collapse, with survival going to those with enough capital to survive, as happened in 2008 when even Toyota, who had the most desired cars, losing billions when 8 million people lost their jobs all at once and sales in general collapsed.

Less than 5 percent of the $800 billion Obama stimulus went to the truly needy for food stamps, earned-income tax credits and other forms of poverty relief. The preponderant share ended up in money dumps to state and local governments, pork-barrel infrastructure projects, business tax loopholes and indiscriminate middle-class tax cuts. The Democratic Keynesians, as intellectually bankrupt as their Republican counterparts (though less hypocritical), had no solution beyond handing out borrowed money to consumers, hoping they would buy a lawn mower, a flat-screen TV or, at least, dinner at Red Lobster.

Ok, apart from the ‘borrowed money’ part. Congressional spending is via the Fed crediting a member bank reserve account. They call it borrowing when they shift those funds from reserve accounts at the Fed to security accounts at the Fed. The word ‘borrowed’ is highly misleading, at best.

But even Mr. Obamas hopelessly glib policies could not match the audacity of the Fed, which dropped interest rates to zero and then digitally printed new money at the astounding rate of $600 million per hour.

And ‘unprinted’ securities accounts/treasury securities at exactly the same pace, to the penny.

Fast-money speculators have been purchasing giant piles of Treasury debt and mortgage-backed securities, almost entirely by using short-term overnight money borrowed at essentially zero cost, thanks to the Fed. Uncle Ben has lined their pockets.

Probably true, though quite a few ‘headline’ fund managers and speculators have apparently been going short…

If and when the Fed which now promises to get unemployment below 6.5 percent as long as inflation doesnt exceed 2.5 percent even hints at shrinking its balance sheet, it will elicit a tidal wave of sell orders, because even a modest drop in bond prices would destroy the arbitrageurs profits. Notwithstanding Mr. Bernankes assurances about eventually, gradually making a smooth exit, the Fed is domiciled in a monetary prison of its own making.

It’s about setting a policy rate. The notion of prison isn’t applicable.

While the Fed fiddles, Congress burns. Self-titled fiscal hawks like Paul D. Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, are terrified of telling the truth: that the 10-year deficit is actually $15 trillion to $20 trillion, far larger than the Congressional Budget Offices estimate of $7 trillion. Its latest forecast, which imagines 16.4 million new jobs in the next decade, compared with only 2.5 million in the last 10 years, is only one of the more extreme examples of Washingtons delusions.

And with no long term inflation problem forecast by anyone, the savings desires over that time period are at least that high.

Even a supposedly bold measure linking the cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security payments to a different kind of inflation index would save just $200 billion over a decade, amounting to hardly 1 percent of the problem.

Thank goodness, as the problem is the deficit is too low, as evidenced by unemployment.

Mr. Ryans latest budget shamelessly gives Social Security and Medicare a 10-year pass, notwithstanding that a fair portion of their nearly $19 trillion cost over that decade would go to the affluent elderly. At the same time, his proposal for draconian 30 percent cuts over a decade on the $7 trillion safety net Medicaid, food stamps and the earned-income tax credit is another front in the G.O.P.s war against the 99 percent.

Never seen him play the class warfare card like this?

Without any changes, over the next decade or so, the gross federal debt, now nearly $17 trillion, will hurtle toward $30 trillion and soar to 150 percent of gross domestic product from around 105 percent today.

Not that it will, but if it does and inflation remains low it just means savings desires are that high.

Since our constitutional stasis rules out any prospect of a grand bargain, the nations fiscal collapse will play out incrementally, like a Greek/Cypriot tragedy, in carefully choreographed crises over debt ceilings, continuing resolutions and temporary budgetary patches.

No description of what ‘fiscal collapse’ might look like. Because there is no such thing.

The future is bleak. The greatest construction boom in recorded history Chinas money dump on infrastructure over the last 15 years is slowing. Brazil, India, Russia, Turkey, South Africa and all the other growing middle-income nations cannot make up for the shortfall in demand.


The American machinery of monetary and fiscal stimulus has reached its limits.

Do not agree. In fact, there are no numerical limits.

Japan is sinking into old-age bankruptcy and Europe into welfare-state senescence. The new rulers enthroned in Beijing last year know that after two decades of wild lending, speculation and building, even they will face a day of reckoning, too.

The state-wreck ahead is a far cry from the Great Moderation proclaimed in 2004 by Mr. Bernanke, who predicted that prosperity would be everlasting because the Fed had tamed the business cycle and, as late as March 2007, testified that the impact of the subprime meltdown seems likely to be contained. Instead of moderation, whats at hand is a Great Deformation, arising from a rogue central bank that has abetted the Wall Street casino, crucified savers on a cross of zero interest rates and fueled a global commodity bubble that erodes Main Street living standards through rising food and energy prices a form of inflation that the Fed fecklessly disregards in calculating inflation.

It’s not at all disregarded. And the Fed has only done ‘pretend money printing’ since they ‘unprint’ treasury securities as they ‘print’ reserve balances.

These policies have brought America to an end-stage metastasis. The way out would be so radical it cant happen.

How about a full payroll tax holiday? Too radical to happen???

It would necessitate a sweeping divorce of the state and the market economy. It would require a renunciation of crony capitalism and its first cousin: Keynesian economics in all its forms. The state would need to get out of the business of imperial hubris, economic uplift and social insurance and shift its focus to managing and financing an effective, affordable, means-tested safety net.

These are the conclusions of his way out of paradigm conceptualizing.

All this would require drastic deflation of the realm of politics and the abolition of incumbency itself, because the machinery of the state and the machinery of re-election have become conterminous. Prying them apart would entail sweeping constitutional surgery: amendments to give the president and members of Congress a single six-year term, with no re-election; providing 100 percent public financing for candidates; strictly limiting the duration of campaigns (say, to eight weeks); and prohibiting, for life, lobbying by anyone who has been on a legislative or executive payroll. It would also require overturning Citizens United and mandating that Congress pass a balanced budget, or face an automatic sequester of spending.


It would also require purging the corrosive financialization that has turned the economy into a giant casino since the 1970s. This would mean putting the great Wall Street banks out in the cold to compete as at-risk free enterprises, without access to cheap Fed loans or deposit insurance. Banks would be able to take deposits and make commercial loans, but be banned from trading, underwriting and money management in all its forms.

I happen to fully agree with narrow banking, as per my proposals.

It would require, finally, benching the Feds central planners, and restoring the central banks original mission: to provide liquidity in times of crisis but never to buy government debt or try to micromanage the economy. Getting the Fed out of the financial markets is the only way to put free markets and genuine wealth creation back into capitalism.

Rhetoric that shows his total lack of understanding of monetary operations.

That, of course, will never happen because there are trillions of dollars of assets, from Shanghai skyscrapers to Fortune 1000 stocks to the latest housing market recovery, artificially propped up by the Feds interest-rate repression.

No govt policy necessarily supports rates. Without the issuance of treasury securities, paying interest on reserves, and other ‘interest rate support’ policy rates fall to 0%. He’s got the repression thing backwards.

The United States is broke fiscally, morally, intellectually and the Fed has incited a global currency war (Japan just signed up, the Brazilians and Chinese are angry, and the German-dominated euro zone is crumbling) that will soon overwhelm it. When the latest bubble pops, there will be nothing to stop the collapse.

How about a full payroll tax holiday???

If this sounds like advice to get out of the markets and hide out in cash, it is.

I tend to agree but for the opposite reason.

The deficit may have gotten too small with the latest tax hikes and spending cuts.

(feel free to distribute)

Posted in Banking, Bonds, CBs, China, Comodities, Currencies, Deficit, Employment, Exports, Fed, Government Spending, Greece, Inflation, Interest Rates, Oil, Political, Recession, trade | No Comments »

saudi output down

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 1st February 2013

A small drop but looking lower.
Won’t alter price yet.

Posted in Comodities, Oil | No Comments »

Oil Settles Higher After Saudi Arabia Cuts Output

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 18th January 2013

As the article states, production fell because demand fell. If anything that would be oil unfriendly as the Saudis can only cut maybe another 5 million bpd without ‘permanent’ cutbacks, at which point they lose control of price on the downside.

Market price action, however, might be telling us the cutbacks were due to production issues in which case the risk is loss of control of price on the upside.

Oil Settles Higher After Saudi Arabia Cuts Output

January 10 (Rueters) — Oil futures rose on Thursday on news that top world oil exporter Saudi Arabia had cut back production in response to flagging demand, and after China reported strong demand for its exports.

U.S. light, sweet crude rose to a 14-week high of $94.70 a barrel before settling at $93.82, up 72 cents on the day. Brent crude futures rose as high as $113.29 a barrel before settling at $111.89, up 13 cents.

OPEC’s top producer slashed oil production by 700,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 9 million bpd during the last two months of 2012, according to industry sources. Major customers for Saudi crude said the cuts were driven by lower demand.

News of the Saudi supply curbs helped briefly push Brent over $113 a barrel for the first time since mid-October, well above the $100 a barrel price Riyadh has said it favors.

Oil and other markets also got a boost from Chinese trade data that showed strong export growth rebound in December, raising expectations of revived growth in the world’s No. 2 economy that could drive more fuel demand.

Crude pared some gains after the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank said its annual revisions showed that factory activity in the U.S. mid-Atlantic region grew at a lower pace in December than originally reported.

“The strong data from China indicates demand might be improving there and the Saudis have cut back production, but the downward revisions by the Philly Fed gave the market a little pause,” said Phil Flynn, analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago.

Gains in U.S. crude pushed the benchmark to a level of 67 on the 14-day relative strength index. That is close to the 70 mark that, according to traders who follow technical charts, can indicate a commodity has been overbought.

U.S gasoline futures rose along with crude, but heating oil futures in the New York Harbor fell by 0.6 percent to around $3.05 per gallon.

Traders attributed the fall to speculation that cargoes of Russian gas oil may come to the Harbor. Physical oil traders told Reuters that up to six cargoes may be headed for New York.

Also helping oil’s advance on Thursday was news of a pipeline explosion in Yemen that halted most of the country’s oil exports.

Flows of oil through Yemen’s main crude export pipeline stopped on Thursday after it was blown up by unknown attackers, government and oil industry officials said.

“These three factors – Saudi Arabia, Yemen and the China data – are all helping to push up the market,” said Tamas Varga, an oil analyst at broker PVM Oil Associates in London.

Saudi Arabia says it favors an oil price of about $100 a barrel, but recent reports have suggested that the market is well supplied and that output from some regions, particularly North America, will grow rapidly over the next two years. U.S. government data showed that domestic oil output rose above 7 million barrels a day last week for the first time since 1993.

“Short term, the Saudi output figures are bullish, but longer term they are more bearish, because they suggest Saudi Arabia sees the need to cut to balance the market,” Varga said.

Posted in Comodities, Oil | No Comments »

WTI vs Brent

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 28th December 2012

The days are numbered before WTI converges up to Brent.
The discount is now less than $20.

$110 WTI will take away competitive advantages of those now able to use Cushing oil, etc.

Enterprise to expand Seaway pipeline to 850,000 bpd

December 17 (Reuters) — Enterprise Products Partners LP and partner Enbridge Inc plan to expand the Seaway pipeline to transport 850,000 barrels a day of crude between Oklahoma and southern Texas during the first quarter of 2014, an Enterprise spokesman said on Monday.

Seaway, a 150,000 barrel per day line that was reversed earlier this year to ship crude 500 miles southward from Cushing, Oklahoma, to Houston, Texas, will be expanded to run 400,000 barrels per day as of next month, according to a recent filing by Enterprise to the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The plans detailed in the filing were confirmed by Enterprise spokesman Rick Rainey.

A further expansion to 850,000 barrels per day is scheduled to take place in the first quarter of 2014, after a new twin line with capacity of 450,000 bpd is built parallel to the existing Seaway line, Rainey said.

Posted in Comodities, Oil | 35 Comments »

Saudi output

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 1st November 2012

See attached Saudi output 9.8mpd for October, unchanged from Sep

The question remains, are they at their limits?

Posted in Comodities, Oil | 10 Comments »

Naimi Says Saudi Arabia, Gulf States Seeking Stable Oil Prices

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 9th October 2012

This reads a lot like the Saudis have about run out of excess capacity?

Naimi Says Saudi Arabia, Gulf States Seeking Stable Oil Prices

By Deema Almashabi and Glen Carey

October 9 (Bloomberg) — Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest exporter of crude oil, will help meet demand “fully” and will work with other member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council to try to stabilize prices, Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said.

“We will work towards moderating the price,” al-Naimi told reporters in Riyadh today ahead of a conference of oil ministers from the council’s six members. “We will meet the market demands fully.”

Crude for November delivery climbed as much as $1 to $90.33 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange and was at $89.93 at 5:09 a.m. local time. Brent oil for November settlement gained 81 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $112.63 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.

Saudi Arabia is the largest nation in the GCC, a political and economic confederation that includes Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. The four states belong also to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. The GCC’s other members are Bahrain and Oman. Together, the council accounted for 24 percent of worldwide crude supply in 2011 and 30 percent of total reserves, according to BP Plc’s Statistical Review of World Energy, published in June 2012.

“Oil prices rose in March to levels not seen since 2008, which may adversely affect the global economy, particularly the economies of developing and emerging countries, as well as negatively impact global oil demand,” al-Naimi said in a speech at the conference.

“We continued our policy of allaying market fears, providing supplies when needed and limiting high price fluctuations during the ensuing months till this present day,” he said.

Posted in Comodities, Oil | 5 Comments »

Saudi output

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 3rd October 2012

Demand for Saudi crude remained high as they post price and let quantity adjust.

So it looks like they are trying to keep prices in check even with demand getting reasonably close to their capacity limits.

And it’s not illegal for them to set the price of oil to best support their candidate of choice.

Posted in Oil | 9 Comments »


Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 14th September 2012

QE in the US has again done what it’s always done- frighten investors and portfolio managers ‘out of the dollar’ and into the likes of gold and other commodities.

And because sufficient market participants believe it works to increase aggregate demand, it’s also boosted stocks and caused bonds to sell off, as markets discount a higher probability of higher growth, lower unemployment, and therefore fed rate hikes down the road.

But, of course, QE in fact does nothing for the economy apart from removing more interest income from the economy, particularly as the Fed adds relatively high yielding agency mortgages to its portfolio.

As ever, QE is a ‘crop failure’ for the dollar. It works to strengthen the dollar and weaken demand, reversing the initial knee jerk reactions described above.

But the QE myth runs deep, and in the past had taken a while for the initial responses to reverse, taking many months the first time, as fears ran as deep as headline news in China causing individuals to take action, and China itself reportedly letting its entire US T bill run off.

But with each successive QE initiative, the initial ‘sugar high’ is likely to wear off sooner. How soon this time, I can’t say.

Global austerity continues to restrict global aggregate demand, particularly in Europe where funding continues to be conditional on tight fiscal. Yes, their deficits are probably high enough for stability- if they’d leave them alone- but that’s about all.

And as the US continues towards the fiscal cliff the automatic spending cuts are already cutting corporate order books.

And oil prices are rising, and are now at the point cutting into aggregate demand in a meaningful way.

Yes, the US housing market is looking a tad better, and, if left alone, probably on a cyclical upturn. And modest top line growth, high unemployment keeping wages in check, and low discounts rates remains good for stocks, and bad for people working for a living.

Too many cross currents today for me to make any bets- maybe next week…

Posted in CBs, China, Fed, Government Spending, Oil | 118 Comments »

Brent Crude price

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 7th August 2012

Looks like the Saudi gift to the US economy might have been short lived?
No telling what they are up to…

Posted in Comodities, Oil | 32 Comments »

Saudi Crude Oil Production

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 31st July 2012

Saudi production up a tad for July.

With the Saudis posting prices and letting their clients buy all they want at the posted prices, this shows marginal global net demand has yet to fall off, and, in fact increased a bit.

And, if Saudi excess capacity isn’t as high as the 12.5 million bpd reported a relatively small supply disruption could result in an immediate spike in price.

Posted in Comodities, Oil | 10 Comments »

Norway intervenes to avert oil industry closure

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on 9th July 2012

This was about to be seriously disruptive:

Norway intervenes to avert oil industry closure

By Mia Shanley and Dmitry Zhdannikov

July 9 (Reuters) — Norway’s government ordered on Monday a last-minute settlement in a dispute between striking oil workers and employers in a move to alleviate market fears over a full closure of its oil industry and a steep cut in Europe’s supplies.

The strike over pensions had kept crude prices on the boil with analysts expecting far quicker action by the government to stop the oil industry from locking out all offshore staff from their workplaces from midnight (2200 GMT) on Monday.

Oil markets breathed a sigh of relief on news of the intervention and crude prices dropped in early Asian trade.

Under Norwegian law, the government can force the striking workers back to duty and has done so in the past to protect the industry on which much of the country’s economy depends.

But it was slow to intervene in the latest dispute, which was in its third week, and did so on Monday only minutes before the start of the lockout, citing potential economic consequences.

“I had to make this decision to protect Norway’s vital interests. It wasn’t an easy choice, but I had to do it,” Labour Minister Hanne Bjurstroem told Reuters after meeting with the trade unions and the Norwegian oil industry association (OLF).

A full closure of output in Norway – the world’s No. 8 oil exporter – would have cut off more than 2 million barrels of oil, natural gas liquids (NGL) and condensate per day.

But the minister said her main concern was the potential cut in gas supplies. Norway is the world’s second-biggest gas exporter by pipeline, with the majority of supplies going to Britain, the Netherlands France and Germany.

“This could have had serious consequences for the trust in Norway as a credible supplier,” she added.

The oil and gas industry makes up about one-fifth of Norway’s $417 billion economy.

Leif Sande, leader of the largest labour union Industri Energi, representing more than half of 7,000 offshore workers, said workers would return to work immediately.

“It’s very sad. The strike is over,” he told journalists.

The dispute has raised eyebrows in Norway, where oil and gas workers are already the world’s best paid, raking in an average $180,000 a year. Offshore workers clock 16 weeks a year but cite tough conditions for their call for early retirement at 62.

The oil industry had refused to budge.

“I am very happy that the minister chose to end a conflict that has cost Norway and the oil companies large sums,” said Gro Braekken, leader of the OLF.

The OLF said the 16-day strike came at a cost of some 3.1 billion Norwegian crowns ($509 million).

The next step is compulsory arbitration to define a new wage agreement.

“With this decision we can see that whenever the oil industry says jump, the government listens,” Hilde Marit Rysst, leader of union SAFE, told Reuters. “We will never leave this issue – it is completely unthinkable to stop fighting for those who are worn out at 62.”

She said unions would push their issues at the next suitable opportunity.

Norway is keen to retain its image as a reliable supplier of energy, but analysts have said the Labour-led coalition government was slow to intervene as it faces general elections in a year, and labour unions are important partners.

On Monday, Labour Minister Bjurstroem said she believed the lockout was not necessary and the oil industry will have to take responsibility.

About 10 percent of the 7,000 offshore workers have been on strike since June 24.

Brent crude dropped more than $1 to below $99 per barrel in early Asian trade on Tuesday on news of the intervention, after surging to above $101 on supply fears in the previous session.

The strike had choked off some 13 percent of Norway’s oil production and 4 percent of its gas output.

State-controlled Statoil, which operates the affected fields, said it would resume production immediately and would be back at full capacity by the end of the week.

The last lockout in the offshore sector occurred in 1986, shutting down production on the Norwegian continental shelf completely, and lasted for three weeks before the government intervened. In 2004, the center-conservative government stepped in to avert a lockout. ($1 = 6.0881 Norwegian crowns)

Posted in Comodities, Oil | 19 Comments »