201705.25
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Almost Certain

It doesn’t appear as if the OPEC decision went as the oil ministers might have hoped. Agreeing to a nine-month extension, more than the usual six months, it was still less than the whispered year that had been rumored and seemingly supported as late as yesterday. Still, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih was encouraged. We…

201705.24
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There Is Clarity In Oil’s Increasingly Cloudy Forecast

Problems aren’t supposed to be always intractable, are they? It has gone on so long that maybe long ago memories of minor adjustments are a bit fuzzy, but seemingly no matter what over the last decade every that issue arises and is met by the usual, standard efforts, is instead of being solved by them…

201705.16
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Good Month For Industrial Production, But Serious Questions Remain

Industrial Production rose sharply in April 2017, up nearly 1% month-over-month (seasonally-adjusted). It was the largest single month increase since February 2014 during the depths of the Polar Vortex. Steady contributions from the oil sector as well as a rebound (of sorts) in Motor Vehicle Assemblies added to the gains. Year-over-year, IP was up just…

201705.15
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Staying Stuck

The rebound in commodity prices is not difficult to understand, perhaps even sympathize with. With everything so depressed early last year, if it turned out to be no big deal in the end then there was a killing to be made. That’s what markets are supposed to do, entice those with liquidity to buy when…

201705.12
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Inflation Is Oil, But Inflation Is Much More Than Consumer Prices

The average annual change in the WTI benchmark price was in April about 25%. That was still a sizable increase year-over-year, and just marginally less than March’s average of 33%. For calculated inflation rates, it represents the last of the base effects that have to this point made it appear as if economic improvement was…

201705.04
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About Those Secondary Speculators

Back when the WTI curve was at its steepest contango, who was it that was buying up all that oil? A sheer vertical curve is an invitation to almost free money, very much like other curves everywhere else during the “rising dollar.” You could simultaneously buy crude at spot and sell it for delivery years…

201704.18
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Global Asset Allocation Update

There is no change to the risk budget this month. For the moderate risk investor, the allocation between risk assets and bonds is unchanged at 50/50.  The performance of markets in the first quarter of the year was a bit schizophrenic. Stocks performed well which one might interpret as a reflection of improving economic growth…

201704.04
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February US Trade Disappoints

The oversized base effects of oil prices could not in February 2017 push up overall US imports. The United States purchased, according to the Census Bureau, 71% more crude oil from global markets this February than in February 2016. In raw dollar terms, it was an increase of $7.3 billion year-over-year. Total imports, however, only…

201701.25
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The Inconvenience of Oil

For the first time in three years, oil inventories in the United States are not rising precipitously more than the seasonally expected. At the start of both 2015 and 2016, oil stocks exploded higher as oil prices crashed, all related to the “dollar” flex on the front end of the futures curve creating sufficient contango…

201701.24
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Reflation?

It has been out of hand for some time, but the longer it goes the further from sense it can get. Today’s news is apparently about a bipartisan effort for $1 trillion in “stimulus”, as if the last $1 trillion in “stimulus” had never happened. Apparently eight years is enough for memories to have been…