Category Archives: Economy

Why $100 oil won’t be coming back for a long, long time

L-Shaped Oil Recovery Flattens V-Shaped Market Optimists

(Bloomberg) — Get ready for an L-shaped oil recovery.

A growing consensus is emerging from the likes of BP Plc, the International Energy Agency, shale wildcatters and even the Saudis that a near-term recovery to $100-a-barrel crude isn’t in the cards. Instead, expect a range of $50 to $60 for at least the next few years.

When oil prices plunged sharply in 2008, they rebounded almost as quickly. Several months ago, industry and government touted the same U or V-shaped recovery this time out. On closer examination, a new factor in the marketplace — shale oil — has changed their minds.

“This is the new normal,” Dennis Cassidy, co-leader of the oil and natural gas practice for consulting company AlixPartners, said in an interview. His group sees an L-shaped chart that could extend for three to five years.

Unlike other petroleum formations, the nature of shale — with multiple inexpensive, short-lived wells — means producers can stop and start drilling on a dime. On the one hand, this allows them to quickly cut costs in a downturn; on the other, every time prices tick up, so will their output — renewing downward pressure on prices.

While an offshore well usually costs about $100 million to drill, and takes as long as 10 years and billions more to begin producing from a new field, a shale well requires only several million dollars and a few weeks to coax out oil and gas.

No Coordination

“When the price of oil recovers, most shale formations will be aggressively exploited,” said Leonardo Maugeri, a former Eni SpA vice president and now a researcher at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science & International Affairs. Based on his appreciation of shale’s special qualities, he predicted the current glut in 2012.

No central authority tells shale drillers, who have been described as the new “swing producers,” what to do. Unlike the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, the effect they’ll have in holding down prices comes from a set of independent decisions influenced by the need to deliver shareholder returns.

The expectation that U.S. producers will boost drilling as soon as prices improve is why oil executives, including BP Chief Executive Officer Bob Dudley, are saying they don’t see $100 a barrel returning for a “long time.”

Chesapeake Energy Corp. and Oneok Partners LP are among companies basing their budgets on an assumption that oil will stick to about $50 to $55 a barrel this year, with $65 the ceiling for next year.

Read more » Bloomberg
See more » http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-03-03/l-shaped-oil-recovery-flattens-v-shaped-market-optimists

Tesla Motors Announces A New Home Battery; Living Off The Grid Will Soon Be Status Quo

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, announced Wednesday that the company is working on a new kind of battery that would be used to power homes. Based on Tesla’s lithium-ion battery technology, the new battery is expected to help the company become a leader in the growing home energy-storage market.

Speaking during an earnings conference call on Wednesday, Musk said that the design of the battery is complete, and production would begin in about six months. Although the company did not provide any date for the product’s launch, Musk said that he was pleased with the result.

Nissan Leaf battery pack“We are going to unveil the Tesla home battery, the consumer battery that would be for use in people’s houses or businesses fairly soon,” Bloombergquoted Musk as saying.

During an earnings call last year, Musk had talked about his plans to make a product that would be fitted into consumers’ homes, instead of their cars. He had expressed an interest in the home energy-storage market and predicted enormous demand for battery systems for backup power at both homes and businesses.

“We are trying to figure out what would be a cool stationary (battery) pack,” Forbes had quoted Musk as saying at the time. “Some will be like the Model S pack: something flat, 5 inches off the wall, wall mounted, with a beautiful cover, an integrated bi-directional inverter, and plug and play.”

The Palo Alto, California-based automaker already produces residential energy-storage units through SolarCity Corp., a solar-power company that names Musk as its chairman and the biggest shareholder. In addition, Tesla’s Fremont, California, facility also produces large stationary storage systems for businesses and utility clients, Bloomberg reported.

“The long-term demand for stationary energy storage is extraordinary,” JB Straubel, Tesla’s chief technical officer, said. “We’ve put in a huge amount of effort there.”

At this moment, many solar or wind-powered homes have to remain on a the grid because there has not been a way to store extra power for lean hours. If given a relatively cheap and reliable battery to hold the power needed, building off-grid in the country will become commonplace, and even in the city, self powered homes could be a less expensive option than being grid-tied.

Courtesy: Off Grid Quest
Read more » http://offgridquest.com/news/tesla-motors-announces-a-new-home-batter

S&P raises India’s GDP forecasts, says it’s a bright spot in Asia

PM Modi

PM Modi

MUMBAI: (Reuters) – Standard & Poor’s sharply raised India’s growth forecasts for the next several years to reflect a recent change in how gross domestic product is calculated by the government, and said the economy should be a “bright spot” in Asia.

The ratings agency S&P raised its India GDP growth forecast to 7.9 percent from 6.2 percent for the year ending March 2016, citing as well rising investment and low oil prices.

The agency also raised its growth forecast for 2016/17 to 8.2 percent from 6.6 percent previously.

The revisions come after India this month changed the way it measures Asia’s third-largest economy.

“India should be the Asia-Pacific region’s bright spot,” S&P said in a statement.

At the same time, the ratings agency lowered growth forecasts for a slew of Asian countries, including China and Japan.

S&P currently rates India at “BBB-” with a “stable” outlook.

The agency earlier this week said India must boost growth, cut its fiscal deficit and fulfil promises of financial and fiscal reforms to justify an upgrade in a credit rating.

(Reporting by Neha Dasgupta; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

News courtesy: Reuters
Read more » http://in.reuters.com/article/2015/02/26/india-economy-s-p-idINKBN0LU0L220150226

Google Is Making Its Biggest Bet on Renewable Energy

(Bloomberg) — Google Inc. is making its largest bet yet on renewable energy, a $300 million investment to support at least 25,000 SolarCity Corp. rooftop power plants.

Google is contributing to a SolarCity fund valued at $750 million, the largest ever created for residential solar, the San Mateo, California-based solar panel installer said Thursday in a statement.

Google has now committed more than $1.8 billion to renewable energy projects, including wind and solar farms on three continents. This deal, which may have a return as high as 8 percent, is a sign that technology companies can take advantage of investment formats once reserved only for banks.

“Hopefully this will lead other corporations to invest in renewable energy,” SolarCity Chief Executive Officer Lyndon Rive said in a phone interview.

Read more » Bloomberg
See more » http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-02-26/google-makes-biggest-bet-on-renewables-to-fund-solarcity?hootPostID=ec03be21cb060deb7c44af681ec97bf1

India to negotiate free trade zone with Russia

Reuters/Ahmad Masood

Reuters/Ahmad Masood

India to negotiate free trade zone with Russia-led Customs Union

India is to start negotiating a free trade agreement with the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan within the next six months, Indian Deputy Minister of Commerce and Industry Rajeev Kher has said.

A Russian-Indian working group which was established in November 2014 will consider the negotiating of a comprehensive free trade agreement between India and the Customs Union.

Kher said the working group would put forward proposals within the next six months and the negotiating process would start after that, TASS reports.

As most of the developed world in the West is suffering an economic downturn, the developing world has been stepping up efforts to bring their economies closer.

Most recently, China said it could establish a free trade zone with a broader Russia-led economic bloc that also includes Armenia and is expected to include Kyrgyzstan soon.

The Eurasian customs union is a regional bloc that includes Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan aimed at creating a single economic space with common tariffs. The group has a population of 168 million people and a GDP of more than $2 trillion.

The BRICS countries which include Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa will also have established by the end of the year the $100 billion New Development Bank, as a rival to the IMF and the World Bank.

Read more » http://rt.com/business/235731-india-russia-customs-union/

CANADA – Big jobs loss ahead – Alberta could lose Thirty one thousands jobs

economyAlberta is forecasting a $465-million surplus this fiscal year

By Matt Dykstra, Edmonton Sun

The Alberta government is projecting 31,000 fewer jobs in 2015 as falling oil prices put the screws to Canada’s golden goose economy.

On the bright side? They’re also projecting a $465-million surplus this fiscal year despite a $644 million hit to bitumen royalties. But if oil continues to slide, that too could disappear “in a heartbeat,” warned Finance Minister Robin Campbell, giving the fiscal update Tuesday.

In its third quarter update for the first nine months of fiscal year 2014-15, the government expects to post a $465-million change in net assets and a consolidated surplus of $361 million, which includes school districts, universities, colleges and health authorities as well as external corporations and the environmental monitoring agency.

The surplus runs contrary to an earlier statement by Premier Jim Prentice that Alberta would post a $500 million deficit.

“We have taken steps to protect our financial position that will help keep us in the black,” Prentice said Tuesday.

– Related: Alberta’s 3rd-quarter fiscal update

“Contract settlements made by previous administrations and significantly lower resource revenues have created a very challenging fiscal outlook for Alberta. This requires a reset of our fiscal foundation to address a $7 billion revenue gap.”

A sharp drop in oil prices has moved the government’s non-renewable resource revenue forecast down by $503 million, with bitumen royalties expected to drop $644 million by the end of 2014-15. While initially budgeting average West Texas Intermediate (WTI) prices of $95 per barrel, the government is now forecasting an average of $79 per barrel.

A falling exchange rate, now forecast at roughly 88 cents US to Canadian dollar, will cushion falling energy revenues but real gross-domestic product is now forecast at only 0.6% growth in 2015 due to a pullback in energy investment.

Oil and gas investment is expected to decline by 30% in 2015. The province is predicting a 1% increase in job growth that is actually a slowdown compared to the 2.2% job growth seen in 2014. The result is an expected loss of 31,800 jobs, largely in oil-related fields, meaning 2015 will be one of the weakest years for job growth in the past 25 years.

“Let’s be clear, we’re about $300 million in the black and that could disappear in a heartbeat,” warned Campbell, noting the low exchange rate and corporate tax boost are helpful but not a solution.

Read more » thebeaumoontnews
See more » http://www.thebeaumontnews.ca/2015/02/24/alberta-is-forecasting-a-465-million-surplus-this-fiscal-year

China, Turkey and UAE are the fastest growing economies of the world

china

China

The World’s 10 Fastest Growing Metropolitan Areas

By Joseph Parilla and Jesus Leal Trujillo

With only 20 percent of the population, the world’s 300 largest metropolitan economies account for nearly half of global economic output. Through our new Global Metro Monitorreport and interactive, users can understand the individual trajectories of the world’s large metropolitan economies and gain new insights into sources of growth that national or regional assessments tend to obscure.

The fastest growing metro areas this year, as measured by our economic performance index that combines employment and GDP per capita growth, are concentrated in China, Turkey and the Middle East.

Read more » Brrokings
See more » http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/the-avenue/posts/2015/02/10-worlds-10-fastest-growing-metropolitan-areas-parilla-trujillo?cid=00900015020089101US0001-02241

Russia ratifies $100bn BRICS New Development Bank

The leaders of the BRICS countries - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - sign a deal to create a new $100bn development bank and emergency reserve fund.

The leaders of the BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – sign a deal to create a new $100bn development bank and emergency reserve fund.

The Russian State Duma has ratified the $100 billion BRICS bank that’ll serve as a pool of money for infrastructure projects in Russia, Brazil, India, China and South Africa, and challenge the dominance of the Western-led World Bank and the IMF.

The New Development Bank is expected to start fully functioning by the end of 2015, according to the Russian Finance Ministry.

Russia has agreed to provide $2 billion dollars from the federal budget for the bank over the next seven years.

It will have three-tiers of corporate governance, with a Board of Governors, Board of Directors and a President.

The bank’s board of directors will hold its first meeting in Ufa in Russia in April. Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov is likely to become the bank’s first Chairman of the Board of Governors, according to Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak talking on the Russia 24 TV channel.

The decision to establish the BRICS bank, along with a $100 billion reserve currency pool, was made in July 2014. Each of the five member countries is expected to allocate an equal share of the $50 billion startup capital that will be expanded to $100 billion.

The bank will be headquartered in Shanghai, India will serve as the first five-year rotating president, and the first Chairman of the Board of Directors will come from Brazil.

Read more » RT
See more » http://rt.com/business/234027-russia-ratifies-brics-bank/

Germany Rejects Loan Request Saying Greece Must Meet Conditions

(Bloomberg) — Germany rejected Greece’s request for an extension of its aid program, saying its offer doesn’t meet the euro region’s conditions for continuing aid.

The Greek government is trying to agree bridge-financing without meeting the conditions of its existing rescue program, German Finance Ministry Spokesman Martin Jaeger said in an e-mailed statement. European Commission Spokesman Margaritis Schinas moments earlier had said the Greek letter could be the basis for a “reasonable compromise.”

The euro dropped 0.3 percent to $1.1358.

Read more » Bloomberg
See more » http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-02-19/eu-says-greek-letter-may-pave-way-for-reasonable-compromise-i6c3go5j

The Robots Are Coming for Your Paycheck

Technological progress isn’t always a good thing.

A paper out this month concludes smart machines, such as robots, have the potential to destroy good-paying jobs and damage the economy.

“In other words, technological progress can be immiserating,” Boston University’sSeth Benzell, Laurence Kotlikoff and Guillermo LaGarda, and Columbia University’s Jeffrey Sachs write.

The study, “Robots are Us: Some Economics of Human Replacement,” is careful to note that’s not the only possible outcome. But it does predict a long-run decline in labor’s share of income, a cycle of tech booms and busts, and a growing dependency on past software investment rather than continued.

Economists have long debated the role of technology and the future of the economy. And clearly automation is playing a bigger and bigger role in daily life.

Messrs. Benzell, Kotlikoff, LaGarda and Sachs look specifically at the creation of software code that powers machines used to produce goods–that is, robots. Their worry is that the stock of good code will grow during a boom to the point that the demand for new code will decline, leading to lower wages in the high-tech field. That, in turn, means less savings and investment, and the accumulation of fewer assets.

“The long run in such a case is no techno-utopia,” the authors say. “Yes, code is abundant. But capital is dear. And yes, everyone is fully employed. But no one is earning very much.”

During the ensuing bust, consumption falls and not enough capital accumulates for the next round of investment.

“In short, when smart machines replace people, they eventually bite the hands of those that finance them,” the authors say.

Read more » The Wall Street Journal 
Learn more » http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2015/02/17/the-robots-are-coming-for-your-paycheck/

The pro-worker, pro-growth experiment in Greece is under threat

By 

While the wealthiest 85 individuals on the planet own more wealth than the bottom half of the world’s population – and when the top 1% will soon own more wealth than the bottom 99% – the people of Greece and the anti-austerity party, Syriza, they elected to lead them are struggling to rebuild their economy so that ordinary people there can live with a shred of dignity and security.

But powerful international interests are putting the pro-growth, pro-worker experiment in progressive democracy currently underway in grave danger.

Greece is on the verge of leaving the Eurozone rather than accept a continuation of the reduced government spending measures imposed on it by the union’s other 18 members in exchange for a credit package that expires at the end of February; talks in Brussels broke down on Monday after the Syriza negotiators refused to break the party’s promises to the Greek people by accepting more punishing austerity. The German government, the European Commission and the European Central Bank (ECB) all seem intent on bringing the new government to heel, regardless of the people for whom German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble claims to feel sorry.

The real concern, apparently, is that democracy may go too far for austerity advocates to continue imposing their economic ideology from a distance: in Spain, Portugal, Finland and elsewhere, the patience of citizens is wearing thin as a growing number of them awaken to the stark reality that, while the very rich get much richer, the austerity programs their governments dutifully implemented are the cause rather than the cure for what ails their economies.

If Syriza succeeds in rolling back the EU-mandated measures, it could encourage dissident political movements in other parts of Europe; the right-wing governments in Europe’s periphery are terrified of a Greek success at the negotiating table.

Syriza’s recent electoral success was a clear indictment of the budget-strangling policies that left Greece mired in a depression for the last five years. Back at the beginning, money that should have been used to protect Greek families and rebuild Greek communities was instead used to protect the holders of Greek government debt – mainly French and German banks.

Read more » The Guardian
Learn more » http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/feb/17/the-pro-worker-pro-growth-experiment-in-greece-is-under-threat

 

Sunny business: India to trump US with 750 megawatt solar power plant

The construction of the world’s largest solar power plant is underway in central India. When the 750-megawatt site starts operating in August, 2016, the project is set to overtake America’s 550-megawatt ‘Desert Sunlight’ in California.

The world’s largest solar power plant that will be generating 750MW of electricity had been recently commissioned in Rewa district of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, the Times of India reported on Monday.

Now, the 40-billion-rupee ($643 million) project is close to acquisition of 1,500 hectares of land, and by April government agencies are believed to start inviting tenders from developers. It is a joint venture of state-run PSU Urja Vikas Nigam with Solar Energy Corporation of India, and at least 20 percent of the energy generated by the plant will be used within the Madhya Pradesh state.

Read more » RT
See more » http://rt.com/news/232675-india-largest-solar-plant/

Breakdown of talks over Greece debt prompts market concerns

By Lorne Cook and Pan Pylas, The Associated Press

BRUSSELS — Greek shares led a European retreat Tuesday as investors reacted negatively to the breakdown in talks between Greece and its creditors in the 19-nation eurozone over the country’s attempt to renegotiate its financial bailout.

A meeting on Monday was cut off short, with the eurozone issuing Greece an effective ultimatum, saying the country must accept a key condition by the end of the week or face having to meet its debt commitments on its own — a prospect many in financial markets think would leave Greece little option but to leave the euro.

Greek shares opened more than 4 per cent lower. Other markets fell, too, including Germany’s DAX, which was down 0.9 per cent.

Read more » CTV News
Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/business/breakdown-of-talks-over-greece-debt-prompts-market-concerns-1.2239574#ixzz3S11J2mGK

Bye, the beloved country – why almost 40 percent of Israelis are thinking of emigrating

By and Shanee Shiloh

According to a new survey, more than a third of Israelis would leave the country if they could, citing economic opportunities as the main reason. Who are the wannabe leavers, and what can be done to induce them to stay?

Read more » Haaretz
Learn more » http://www.haaretz.com/news/features/bye-the-beloved-country-why-almost-40-percent-of-israelis-are-thinking-of-emigrating.premium-1.484945

 

 

Canada: Sun Media to cut 360 jobs

Sun Media to cut 360 jobs and close 11 of its newspapers, including three free urban dailies

By Christine Dobby and Canadian Press

Sun Media Corp. announced Tuesday it is cutting 360 jobs and closing eight of its local publications as well as three of its free commuter papers as it searches for more cost savings while print revenues continue to decline.

The Quebecor Inc.-owned company said the restructuring changes are expected to lead to $55-million in annual savings.

Julie Tremblay, chief operating officer at Sun Media, attributed the cuts to the “unprecedented transformation” sweeping the print publishing industry.

“The management decisions we are making are difficult and highly regrettable, particularly the job cuts,” she said in a statement. “However, the downsizing is necessary to maintain a strong positioning for our new media outlets on all platforms and more broadly to secure our corporation’s future success in an industry that is being revolutionized by the advent of digital.”

Read more » Financial Post
See more » http://business.financialpost.com/2013/07/16/sun-media-job-cuts-closing/?__lsa=c366-14df

‘Bankrupt but Free’: Greeks stage nationwide anti-austerity rallies

As EU politicians failed to reach a Greek debt deal in Brussels, thousands of people poured onto the streets of Athens and other large cities to protest austerity and voice support for the recently elected Syriza party.

Eurozone finance ministers have made progress in discussions with Greece following hours of talks on Wednesday. The talks on whether to extend an international bailout to Athens will continue during the next scheduled meeting on Monday, as the sides could not agree on another meeting before then.

“We explored a number of issues, one of which was the current program,” Eurogroup chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem said. “We discussed the possibility of an extension. For some that is clear that is preferred option but we haven’t come to that conclusion as yet.”

Greece has confirmed there was no agreement, adding that “negotiations will continue with the goal of a mutually beneficial agreement.”

Read more » http://rt.com/news/231483-greece-rallies-austerity-talks/

Catching the dragon

IN RECENT weeks, economists at the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and Goldman Sachs, a bank, have tentatively suggested that within a year or two, India’s economy might be growing more quickly than China’s. The day came sooner than they had imagined. Official statistics published on February 9th revealed that India’s GDP rose by 7.5% in 2014, a shade faster than China’s economy managed over the same period (see chart). Narendra Modi, India’s publicity-savvy prime minister, could scarcely have hoped for a better endorsement of his first few months in office.

Read more » The Economist
See more » http://www.economist.com/news/business-and-finance/21642656-indias-economy-grew-faster-chinas-end-2014-catching-dragon?fsrc=scn/tw/te/bl/catchingthedragon

Robots rising: Automated workforce rapidly gaining on humans, will push labor costs down – report

Robots will become cheaper and more efficient in the coming years, replacing human workers at a faster clip than expected while driving labor costs down by 16 percent, according to a new report.

The number of industrial robots will jump by 10 percent a year in the world’s top 25 export nations through 2025, according to the Boston Consulting Group’s report, The Shifting Economics of Global Manufacturing.” The current growth rate is about 2 or 3 percent per year.

The abundance of robotic workers will slash labor costs by 22 percent in the United States, 33 percent in South Korea, and 25 percent in Japan.

Read more » http://rt.com/usa/231079-robots-work-humans-labor/

Ukraine’s Economy is Collapsing, Currency Drops 50 Percent in 48 Hours

By Joseph Lemiuex

(ANTIMEDIA) Ukraine has been going through its trials and tribulations lately. The past three days being its biggest trouble in an already uphill battle. Not only is Ukraine’s government in Kiev battling with its shaky legitimacy, but the economy is now tanking on an epic scale.

Ukraine is essentially broke, and barely had an economy to begin with. It’s already been talking with the IMF about a $15 billion bailoutas its reserves have dwindled down to $6.42 billion, just enough to cover 5 weeks of imports. The hryvnia (Ukraine’s currency) fell from 16.8 to 24.4 per dollar on Tuesday, and then on Friday to 25.3 per dollar. Ultimately the hryvnia dropped 50 percent in under a 48 hour period, despite the central banks adjusting interest rates to combat such a drop.

Ukraine’s economy has been mismanaged for years now, but after the Ukrainian coup, it hasn’t gotten any better. After the fall of communism in Ukraine the economy actually shrunk drastically in 91. With the repercussions of the coup, over a quarter of Ukraine’s industrial strength is in the hands of eastern Ukrainian citizens who oppose the current regime in power. Many of these citizens considering the new Ukrainian to be illegitimate and unresponsive to the Ukrainian citizens.

Read more » The AntiMedia
Learn more » http://theantimedia.org/ukraines-currency-collapsing-drops-50-percent-48-hours/

Greek Democracy

Courtesy: CNBC

‘Contingency plan’ needed for Greek eurozone exit – British govt

The UK is preparing for a possible Greek exit from the eurozone by taking measures to ensure British banks and companies are not exposed to risk.

Prime Minister David Cameron discussed plans to prepare the UK for a Greek exit from the eurozone with senior Treasury and Bank of England officials at a meeting on Monday.

They debated the possible impact an exit would have on markets and considered potential contingencies for the British businesses thought to be exposed to financial risk.

The meeting follows comments by the former chairman of the US Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, who told the BBC: “I believe [Greece] will eventually leave.”

Read more » http://rt.com/uk/230603-uk-begins-preparations-grexit/

Canada 2nd Only To Greece In Household Debt Growth, Risks Crisis: Study

By  |  By

  • Canada one of seven countries at risk
  • Housing downturn could mean ‘downward spiral’ for economy
  • Condo boom may be driving up debt

Canada is a world leader in an area it may not want to be — household debt.

A new study from the McKinsey Global Institute finds Canada has seen the second-highest increase in household debt, relative to income, among developed countries since the Great Recession.

Read more » The Huffington Post
Learn more » http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/02/05/household-debt-crisis-canada_n_6623322.html

Historic moment: Saudi Arabia sees End of Oil Age coming and opens valves on the carbon bubble

by

Most analysts believe Saudi Arabia refuses to cut production because it wants to shake out its higher-cost competitors or because it wants to punish Iran and Russia. There may be some truth in those theories, writes Elias Hinckley, strategic advisor and head of the energy practice with international law firm Sullivan and Worcester, but they miss the deeper motivation of the Saudis. Saudi Arabia, he says, sees the end of the Oil Age on the horizon and understands that a great deal of global fossil fuel reserves will have to stay underground to avoid catastrophic global warming. “That’s why it has opened the valves on the carbon asset bubble.”

Saudi Arabia’s decision not to cut oil production, despite crashing prices, marks the beginning of an incredibly important change. There are near-term and obvious implications for oil markets and global economies. More important is the acknowledgement, demonstrated by the action of world’s most important oil producer, of the beginning of the end of the most prosperous period in human history – the age of oil.

In 2000, Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani, former oil minister of Saudi Arabia, gave an interview in which he said:

“Thirty years from now there will be a huge amount of oil – and no buyers. Oil will be left in the ground. The Stone Age came to an end, not because we had a lack of stones, and the oil age will come to an end not because we have a lack of oil.”

Fourteen years later, while Americans were eating or sleeping off their Thanksgiving meals, the twelve members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) failed to reach an agreement to cut production below the 30 million barrel per day target that was set in 2011.  This followed strenuous lobbying efforts by some of largest oil producing non-OPEC nations in the weeks leading up to the meeting.  This group even went so far as to make the highly unusual offer of agreeing to their own production cuts.

The ramifications of this decision across the globe, not just in energy markets, but politically, are already having consequences for the global landscape.  Lost in the effort to understand the vast implications is an even more important signal sent by Saudi Arabia, the owner of more than 16% of the world’s proved oil reserves, about its view of the future of fossil fuels.

Read more » Energy Post
Learn more » http://www.energypost.eu/historic-moment-saudi-arabia-sees-end-oil-age-coming-opens-valves-carbon-bubble/

Spain rally: Podemos holds Madrid mass ‘March for Change’

 

Tens of thousands of people have massed in central Madrid for a rally organised by radical Spanish leftists Podemos.

The “March for Change” is one of the party’s first outdoor mass rallies, as it looks to build on the recent victory of its close allies Syriza in Greece.

Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias told the crowd a “wind of change” was starting to blow through Europe.

Podemos has surged ahead in opinion polls, and has vowed to write off part of Spain’s debt if it comes to power.

The BBC’s Tom Burridge in Madrid says that there has been an impressive turnout and a carnival atmosphere at the rally.

Several of Madrid’s main avenues became a sea of people and purple, the party’s colour, he says, after its supporters travelled from all over Spain.

‘We dream’

Marching from Madrid city hall to the central Puerta del Sol square, protesters shouted “Si, Podemos!”, meaning “Yes, we can”.

Broadcaster TVE reported that hundreds of thousands were at the demonstration, but there was no official tally.

“The wind of change is starting to blow in Europe,” Mr Iglesias said, addressing supporters in Greek and Spanish at the start of the rally.

“We dream but we take our dream seriously. More has been done in Greece in six days than many governments did in years.”

Protesters are parading in the same streets that over the past six years have seen many other gatherings against financial crisis cutbacks imposed by successive governments.

One marcher, Jose Maria Jacobo, told Reuters news agency that people had to fight back against the political class.

“It is the only way…, to kick out all of those politicians who are taking everything from us. They even try to take our dignity away from us. But that they won’t take that from us,” he said.

But speaking in Barcelona, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Podemos had no chance of winning elections.

“I don’t accept the gloomy Spain which some want to portray because they think that by doing so they will replace those who are governing and have had to face the most difficult crisis in decades. They will not succeed,” he said.

Uncompromising message

Many Spaniards are enraged over reports of political corruption and public spending cuts implemented by Mr Rajoy’s People’s Party and before that by the Socialists.

The two big traditional parties have described the party – less than a year old and whose names translates as “we can” – as populist.

Our correspondent says that since Podemos stormed onto the political scene in last May’s European elections, it has moved from strength to strength with its uncompromising message against austerity and corruption.

But both left-wing and right-wing media have criticised Podemos, accusing it of having ties with Venezuela’s left-wing leaders and alleging financial misconduct by some of its senior members.

Read more » BBC
Learn more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-31072139

IMF’s Economic Forecast For Canada Gets A Downgrade

By The Canadian Press

OTTAWA – The International Monetary Fund is downgrading its 2015 growth forecast for the Canadian economy as it lowers its overall outlook for global growth.

The IMF’s latest economic projections say the world’s economy is getting a boost from lower oil prices.

But it also says those gains are being more than offset by negatives such as slower growth in major economies, including China, Europe, Japan and Russia.

As a net-exporter of oil, Canada is already feeling the pinch of lower crude prices.The IMF is reducing its 2015 outlook for Canadian economic growth to 2.3 per cent — down slightly from its prediction of 2.4 per cent three months ago.

It is also decreasing its projection for next year’s growth to 2.1 per cent — a drop from the 2.4 per cent forecast it made in October.

Read more » Huffington Post
Learn more » http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/01/20/imf-canada-economic-forecast_n_6508610.html

Rise of Pakistan just a matter of time, says David M Darst

KARACHI:  Pakistan is located in a region that will bring major changes in the world economy in coming decades primarily due to its demographics.

With over 100 million people below the age of 30 aspiring to change their lives, the rise of Pakistan is just a matter of time, Morgan Stanley Chief Investment Strategist David M Darst said on Tuesday. Darst, however, was speaking in his personal capacity and not representing Morgan Stanley at the lecture.

“Demographics will play a major role in coming decades. Pakistan is among those nine countries in Asia that will add another China in the next 35 years and the impact of this change will be phenomenal on the world economy,” he said while giving a lecture on “The World Economic Environment: Where’s the Global Capital Going”.

It was part of a special series of lectures that was organised by The Aga Khan University here at its auditorium.

With a young population of an average age of 22 years, “I believe the opportunities that the young entrepreneurs from Pakistan have are going to make an exceptional contribution to the economy of the region,” he added.

Darst, who is the author of 11 books and has a PhD in economics from Yale, said it is wrong to believe that Pakistan is lagging behind due to its proximity with Afghanistan, Iran and India. “In fact, I believe Pakistan is in the centre of Asian countries like Iran, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Indonesia that will significantly contribute in the world economy in coming decades.”

Speaking about the strong fundamentals of Pakistan’s stocks, he said, with 31% returns in dollar terms Pakistan led the world markets in 2014. “What is important is that the stocks in Pakistan are still very cheap compared to the markets in the industrialised world and they are performing better than many markets in terms of returns,” he added.

“I am surprised to see low number of investors in the bourses of Pakistan. This must change considering the strong fundamentals of Pakistani stocks.”

Darst said women in the world are playing an important role in today’s world economy. The rise of the entrepreneurs from the developing world, especially women entrepreneurs, will also bring significant positive changes in this century.

Listing down the challenges to the global economy, he said though Pakistan and India have benefitted from the current sharp decline in oil prices, sudden fall in oil prices has rejuvenated fears of deflation in many countries.

He said Europe is redefining itself and the sharp changes in Europe can surprise the world at large.

Speaking on the challenges facing Europe in relation to Greece, he said the new elected prime minister of Greece could take decisions that may not go well with the euro and the overall economy of the continent.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune, January 28th, 2015.
Learn more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/828679/shift-in-focus-rise-of-pakistan-just-a-matter-of-time-says-morgan-stanley/

Russia’s credit rating downgraded to junk

The Standard & Poor’s rating downgrade will only exacerbate Russia’s economic and financial implosion. The country is already hurting from low oil prices and Western sanctions.

Read more » CNN Money 
Learn more » http://money.cnn.com/video/news/2015/01/26/russia-credit-rating.cnnmoney/

Gas, Still Not as Cheap as It Used to Be

The Price of Gas

Despite a sharp fall in gasoline prices over the past year, a gallon of gas remains more expensive than it was for much of the period between the mid-1980s and early 2000s, after adjusting for inflation.

By 

The decline in gasoline prices over the past four months has been sharp and surprising. But for Americans wondering why their family budgets still feel strained, part of the answer is almost as surprising:

Gas is not actually that cheap, at least not when compared with its level for much of the last 30 years.

At $2.03 a gallon — its current nationwide average — a gallon of gas is still more expensive than nearly anytime in the 1990s, after adjusting for general inflation. Over a 17-year stretch from the start of 1986 to the end of 2002, the real price of gas averaged just $1.87.

That era of cheap gas is easy to forget. Yet it offers a couple of important lessons about two of today’s biggest economic (and political) issues: climate change and the great wage slowdown.

Political leaders — from President Obama and Hillary Clinton to Jeb Bush and Scott Walker — have been signaling in recent weeks that they consider the wage slowdown to be the country’s most pressing issue. And it’s clear that energy plays an important role in it. The beginning of the wage slowdown roughly coincides with the end of the era of cheap gas, which is no coincidence. Energy costs are a major expense for most middle-class and poor families, taking a chunk out of their real (that is, inflation-adjusted) wages.

One of the surest ways to end the great wage slowdown would be for the United States to make sure it’s entering a new era of cheap energy. “It’s the proverbial tax cut,” says Daniel Yergin, vice chairman of the research firm IHS and author of a Pulitzer Prize-winning history of oil. If energy costs remain at current levels, it would put $180 billion into Americans’ pockets this year, according to Moody’s Analytics, equal to 1.2 percent of income and a higher share for lower-income households.

That’s why taking virtually every step to push oil costs even lower — “drill, baby, drill,” as the phrase goes — would make a lot of sense, so long as oil use did not have harmful side effects.

The most obvious way to hold down the price of oil is to increase its supply. The earlier era of cheap gas was made possible by technological advances that allowed for a surge of supply in the 1980s from northern Alaska and Europe’s North Sea. Mexico also became a major producer. The recent drop in oil prices, similarly, stems in part from supply increases in Iraq and Libya. Even more important has been the shale-oil boom (also known as the fracking boom.)

The problem, of course, is that oil use does have side effects. It leads to carbon emissions, which are altering the world’s climate. Last year was probably the planet’s hottest since modern records began in 1880, and the 15 hottest have all occurred since 1998. Oceans are rising, species are at risk and some types of severe storms, including blizzards, seem to be more common.

Read more » Read more » The New York Times
Learn more » http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/27/upshot/gas-still-not-as-cheap-as-it-used-to-be.html?partner=socialflow&smid=tw-nytimes&_r=0&abt=0002&abg=1

Is Greece about to call time on five punishing years of austerity?

Historic elections could see disillusioned voters put leftwing party Syriza in power, sending a defiant message across Europe

By The Observer

A few days ago, two words in a splash of red appeared beneath the first-floor window of the art deco building at 18 Patriarchou Ioakim Street. Their message was unambiguous. “Everybody Syriza”, read the scrawl.

Anywhere else the graffiti might have gone unnoticed. But Patriarchou Ioakim is the central artery that bisects Kolonaki, perhaps the most gentrified and upscale district in central Athens.

Elina Papadatou, who works at Dolce Vita, the high-end confectioner’s opposite, confesses to being quite shocked when it suddenly appeared, as do the young women selling made-to-order evening dresses and wedding gowns – more than €3,000 apiece – in the showroom of the atelier behind the first-floor window. “After all, you couldn’t call Kolonaki a bastion of the left,” says Papadatou. “If anything, I’d say exactly the opposite.”

But as Greeks vote on Sundayin an election whose ramifications will be felt far beyond the borders of their country, quite a few in Kolonaki will not be supporting the conservative New Democracy party. Throwing traditional preferences to the winds, they will be voting for Syriza, the radical left anti-austerity party on course for victory and taking Europe by storm.

All over Greece, in middle-class enclaves eviscerated by the effects of austerity, others will be doing the same. “The bourgeoisie is going to play a major role in securing Syriza’s forthcoming victory,” says political scientist Dimitris Keridis, adding that wealthy friends, frustrated by exorbitant property taxes, have joined the band of turncoats. The exodus will be a repeat of the desertion the conservatives suffered when one in 10 voters migrated to the left in last May’s Euro-elections.

After five years of being subjected to the economic brutalities of neoliberal orthodoxy – the price of the greatest bailout in global financial history – Greeks are not the people they once were. Change is everywhere: in politics, financial affairs, the social fabric and states of mind. This election will be the biggest shift of all: a historic turning point in a country that, on the frontline of the euro crisis, has defiantly challenged the prevailing narrative from Brussels and Berlin.

Read more » The Guardian
Learn more » http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/24/austerity-greece-election-syriza-party-alexis-tsipras?CMP=share_btn_tw

Canadian dollar falls fast and furious: ‘The race to the bottom continues’

By MICHAEL BABADThe Globe and Mail

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men …
The Canadian dollar took a mighty tumble today as the Bank of Canada shocked the markets with a rate cut.

The loonie, as Canada’s dollar coin is known, fell to a low of 80.70 cents U.S., having tumbled below the 82-cent mark just yesterday in anticipation of a bleaker outlook from the central bank.

That was down from its high point today of 82.89 cents and yesterday’s close at 82.56 cents.

It regained some ground to sit at just above the 81-cent mark by late afternoon.

Read more » The Globe and Mail
Learn more » http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/top-business-stories/canadian-dollar-plummets-to-below-82-as-central-bank-slashes-key-rate/article22548831/

Richest 1% to own more than rest of world, Oxfam says

The wealthiest 1% will soon own more than the rest of the world’s population, according to a study by anti-poverty charity Oxfam.

The charity’s research shows that the share of the world’s wealth owned by the richest 1% increased from 44% in 2009 to 48% last year.

On current trends, Oxfam says it expects the wealthiest 1% to own more than 50% of the world’s wealth by 2016.

The research coincides with the start of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The annual gathering attracts top political and business leaders from around the world.

Read more » BBC
Learn more » http://www.bbc.com/news/business-30875633

In China, Projects to Make Great Wall Feel Small

 

By

DALIAN, China — The plan here seems far-fetched — a $36 billion tunnel that would run twice the length of the one under the English Channel, and bore deep into one of Asia’s active earthquake zones. When completed, it would be the world’s longest underwater tunnel, creating a rail link between two northern port cities.

Throughout China, equally ambitious projects with multibillion-dollar price tags are already underway. The world’s largest bridge. The biggest airport. The longest gas pipeline. An $80 billion effort to divert water from the south of the country, where it is abundant, to a parched section of the north, along a route that covers more than 1,500 miles.

Such enormous infrastructure projects are a Chinese tradition. From the Great Wall to the Grand Canal and the Three Gorges Dam, this nation for centuries has used colossal public-works projects to showcase its engineering prowess and project its economic might.

Now, as doubts emerge about the country’s three-decade boom, China’s leaders are moving even more aggressively, doubling down on mega-infrastructure. In November, for instance, the powerful National Development and Reform Commission approved plans to spend nearly $115 billion on 21 supersize infrastructure projects, including new airports andhigh-speed rail lines.

“China has always had this history of mega-projects,” said Huang Yukon, an economist and senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a think tank based in Washington.

“It’s part of the blood, the culture, the nature of its society. To have an impact on the country, they’ve got to be big.”

Continue reading →

Many U.S. retailers fail up north

By Paul R. La Monica

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) – Canada and the United States are geographical neighbors with many things in common. But for big American retailers, the Great White North might as well be another planet.

Canada and the United States are geographical neighbors with many things in common. But for big American retailers, the Great White North might as well be another planet.

Target announced Thursday that it was closing its stores in Canada. New CEO Brian Cornell defended the decision by saying that Target (TGT) would not have been profitable in Canada until at least 2021.

But Target is not the only American retail giant to have problems in the land of hockey and poutine.

Sears (SHLD) has struggled in Canada for years, and the company announced in October it was selling a big stake in its Sears Canada (SRSC) unit in order to raise much-needed cash. (Sears isn’t exactly a huge success on this side of the border either.)

Electronics retailer Best Buy (BBY) closed a bunch of stores in Canada two years ago. The company, which also owns Canadian electronics retailer Future Shop, laid off 950 workers last year in January.

And closeout retailer Big Lots (BIG) closed its Canadian stores in late 2013.

Read more » CNN
Learn more » http://money.cnn.com/2015/01/15/investing/canada-retail-woes-target-sears/index.html?sr=tw011515canada6pVODtopPhoto&sf35560467=1