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Posts Tagged ‘double dip’

2 Aug 27 2010 @ 10:50am by Matt Smith in Biofuels, Capital Markets, Crude Oil, Economy, Global Energy, Natural Gas

Burrito Bites

Here’s the deal; weakening economic data has been unrelentingly pitched at us this week. Few have hit the mark, while many have dealt body blows. And some have just been a slap to the face. So let’s leave these misses, and hit some snacks:  

–How much oil from the spill is still in the Gulf?

–Natural gas futures premium is at its lowest in seven years

–Nasty people have a higher risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Do cities attract hurricanes?

–Renewables increased 8.3% last year in Europe, coal consumption down 16.3%.

–Flow diagram of US energy use.

–Top ten most tattooed cities in the US.

–Factbox about biofuels in Brazil.

30 new coal-fired plants have been built in the US since 2008.

–Grannies knit smart car cosy.

–New microbe discovered eating oil spill in Gulf (h/t LB/NG).

–11 Green inventions that go too far.

–Fat-fingered Sumo Wrestlers unable to use cell phones.  

–Europe’s brisk energy transition.

–Great piece from the Economist on the outlooks for China and India.

–Chinese traffic jam has lasted nearly 2 weeks, spans 100km – and spurs price gouging.

The Burrito Deluxe Award of the week goes to the heating oil crack spread. This has rallied to a two-month high at $11.50, as higher future prices and Latin American demand has encouraged US refiners to increase output. (The crack spread = the profitability of turning a barrel of oil into heating oil. Calculation = the price of 42 gallons of heating oil minus the price of one barrel of oil).

The Burnt Burrito Award of the week goes to US natural gas, which has made a prompt month low for the year.

Burrito Headline of the Week: Police catch man in bush with socks on his hands.

I hate to go all naysayer-doomsayer-debbie downer on you, but this cannot be good. The Burrito Worry of the Week goes to the housing market. There is now 12.5 months of supply on the market. Even if  you think the economy is not double-dipping, you have to be delusional to think that the housing market isn’t. There were 11 million properties in negative equity in Q2 this year, not one house sold for above $750k across the entire US last month, and existing home sales hit their lowest level since 1996. All rather foreboding for the economic picture.

And finally! Last week’s caption competition was won by Kevin. A giftcard will be winging its way to you – have a burrito on the burrito!  Thanks to all for playing – Ginny, you are nuts.

Have a grandiose weekend!

0 Aug 26 2010 @ 10:24am by Matt Smith in Capital Markets, Crude Oil, Economy, Natural Gas

Canada, go, Canada

No need to blame Canada this time, Mr Cartman.

I have a certain affinity with ‘our friends to the North’. Whether it is because I spent eight years working at a Canadian bank, or because one of my favorite people in the world is Canadian (economist Dave Rosenberg, aka Batman – my favorite superhero), or because they produce such great bands as Arcade Fire. I just think they are kinda cool. But to bring this back to our commodity chopping board, here are three random illustrations of their greatness.      

First up, a litmus test to show how they have fared during the ‘great recession’. As we giddily totter ever closer to the edge of double-dipdom, the Canadian employment situation underlines how stoic they have been in the face of adversity. Since the beginning of 2008, Canada has added 173,000 jobs. This is relevant because the US has lost in excess of 7.5 million over the same period. Obviously, the economies of scale are different, but to show positive job growth through the worst recession in nearly a century is rather impressive to say the least:  


Next, we board the good ship natty, to take a look at how much Canada exports to its friends to the South. As the chart below illustrates, although levels have currently dipped below the five-year range, Canada is still the most significant supplier of natural gas to the US (at approximately 11% of total supply). Canada sends half of its total natural gas production in the direction of the US, and this volume blows total global LNG imports out of the water; they are six times as small, and only expected to add 0.5 Tcf to US supply this year:         

Canadian Imports of Natural Gas (source: Bentek)

And finally, we tip our hats to the consistently largest exporter of crude oil to the US: Saudi Arabia Canada. They also have the second largest oil reserves in the world (178 billion barrels, second only to Saudi Arabia), and ultimately supply one in every six barrels consumed in the US:     

Exporters of Crude Oil to the US - May 2010 (000's barrels) - (source:EIA)

So these three quick examples serve to show the impressiveness, the importance, and the relevance of our Canadian counterparts. And we didn’t even need to mention Keanu Reeves, Jim Carrey, or Pamela Anderson. And it is for the above reasons we should be grateful that our friends to the North are both our friends, and to the North. And for that, I raise my glass of Moose Milk to you….cheers.

0 Aug 18 2010 @ 10:55am by Matt Smith in Crude Oil, Economy, Global Energy, Natural Gas

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly…..and the Odd

Alrightee folks, this week we are going to look at four charts which highlight the good, the bad, and the ugly currently surrounding our dearly beloved commodities, and general markets. And one chart which highlights the oddness.       

So let’s dive straight in and start with the Good. The good in this instance represents strong production in the US natural gas market. As the chart below illustrates, production has never been this good, for this year or for the past five years. Despite prices being at what is considered a low level, production continues to grow as break-even costs for new unconventional plays (i.e., shale) mean it is cost-effective to drill for gas at sub-$5. This is further reaffirmed by natural gas rig counts currently hitting an eighteen-month high

US weekly natural gas production (source: Bentek)

‘You see, in this world there’s two kinds of people, my friend: Those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig.’   

The Bad is illustrated through current distillate demand in the US. As the arrow clearly indicates, demand has headed south at a rapid clip since the highs made for the year back in June. This wouldn’t be such a worry in itself; after all, distillate demand is seasonal, and it is currently the time of year for demand to be in slumber. However,  the bigger issue is that demand levels are only a meager 3.6% higher than last year’s anemic levels, and well below the 5-yr average. Not the data you would expect from an economy supposedly in the early throes of expansion:     

US distillate products supplied (source: EIA)

‘There are two kinds of people in the world, my friend: Those with a rope around the neck, and the people who have the job of doing the cutting.   

The next chart is U-G-L-Y (and no, it doesn’t have an alibi). This chart shows the yield on 10-year US government debt. Prices of bonds move inversely to yield (e.g., as prices rise, yields decline). Government bonds, especially Treasuries issued by the US federal government, are seen as the safest of assets; in times of heightened risk aversion (= ‘flight to safety’) investors move their money into bonds, pushing prices up (and yields lower). The last time the yield was as low as 2.6% was back in March 2009, which coincided with equity markets hitting their lows. Government bonds in the last three months, however, have seen strong buying once more. This signals another flight to safety as investors’ views on the economic outlook have deteriorated (with rising concerns over a ‘double dip’ recession) and worries of a deflationary environment shimmy from being incredulous to in-the-mix:  ‘There are two kinds of spurs, my friend. Those that come in by the door; those that come in by the window.’   

And finally, I found this interesting as it was Odd. Back in June we looked at the revaluation of the Yuan (through Sonny and Cher…c’mon, you remember!). At the time, the de-pegging of the Chinese currency was met with both excitement and the expectation for a strong rally. However, the last two months have yielded a modest move (don’t let the chart deceive you…the move from 6.83 to 6.79 only looks big relative to the lack of movement in the previous year). For now it looks as though the revaluation has allowed the Chinese to both appease foreign nations who were accusing them of currency manipulation, while also not drastically changing the currency landscape for its exporters; a win-win situation. 

It feels fitting to end with some type of poignant quote. But instead I leave you with two straight-shooting quotes from Mr Clint Eastwood himself. The first ties in nicely with risk management, reminding us that life is unpredictable: ‘if you want a guarantee, buy a toaster’. And the second is to keep a positive perspective: ‘I don’t believe in pessimism. If something doesn’t come up the way you want, forge ahead. If you think it is going to rain, it will’. That’s my lot; thanks for playing.

1 Jul 30 2010 @ 7:56am by Matt Smith in Crude Oil, Economy, Natural Gas, risk management, Risk Strategy

Keep Calm and Carry On

The phrase ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ originated from a planned  poster campaign by the UK Government to drive on the ‘stiff upper lip’ mentality of the British public as they faced the onset of World War II.  Although this poster was never officially released, it became popular after copies were discovered in a shop in the north of England about ten years ago.

This phrase has resonated with me recently, as financial markets continue to tread water and trade sideways, as the outlook for the global economy remains somewhat mottled. We have had our recession, and we have experienced some semblance of a recovery. But now we are at a fork in the road; from hereon out we may experience a double-dip in the global economy (top of the pops on google search), we may see economic growth gather pace, or we may see the global economy stall and stumble along a path inbetwixt a recovery and a recession.

So it is no surprise given this backdrop that we see sideways action in our dearly beloved commodities. After crude pre-empted a global recovery last year by more than doubling between January and June, prices have traded within a broad range ever since, as prices await the next signal that global oil demand will continue to increase by virtue of a clearly strengthening global economy – both in developing and developed countries:

US natural gas prompt prices have followed a similar sideways pattern, despite having a different set of influences at work. Being both a domestic market, and a radically-changing one at that, prices have remained subdued yet supported as market participants await further clarity on future supply from game-changing sources (i.e., unconventional supplies) and technology. All the while, prices look for further improvement in future demand by virtue of improving economic growth: 

 So, in this current state of flux, the best thing we can do (as well as being in constant dialogue with an energy consultant, of course) is to keep our heads, and wait for the dust to settle, realizing that commodity prices can turn on their heads at any time. Yet all the while, remembering the mantra…to keep calm and carry on.

0 Jul 9 2010 @ 10:52am by Matt Smith in Capital Markets, Crude Oil, Economy, Global Energy, Natural Gas

Burrito Bites

Anyone seen my keys? (...a waterpark, Chinese style...)

As we make a splash into the midst of summer, the temperatures have been rising, but not the price of natty, as hurricane fears abate for now. Crude, on the other hand, has been rejuvenated by a few scraps of info (IMF report and retail sales data, take a bow). Meanwhile, equities have also moved higher in this holiday-shortened week, and the euro has rallied once more. Enough of the small talk, let’s take some big bites:

–How many DOE (Dept. of Energy) workers does it take to change a lightbulb?

–Moving from coal to natural gas is the cheapest way to cut carbon emissions…but hang on, it would cost hundreds of billions to implement.

–Feed indian food to sheep to save the world.

The rise (and fade?) of gas Opec.

–Predicting the long-term trajectory of the Gulf oil spill by NOAA. 

–Truth and lies about the oil-skimming statistics for the Gulf spill.

–Cheaper flight tickets through standing-room only flights.

–Searching ‘double dip’ on Google goes crazy.

–The commodity bull corner…time to be bullish on coal?….and $100 oil: coming sooner than you think.

–Simple yet genius…a new economic index – The Coffee Indicator.

BP-themed board game foreshadows the Gulf spill by a few decades.

–Solar-powered plane flies through the night  (brave pilot) for 26 straight hours.

–Psychic octopus chooses the winner of The World Cup…

Energy efficiency to have twice the impact of renewables, nuclear and clean coal, combined – by 2020.

Never slaughter a chicken in front of a monkey.

The Burrito Deluxe Award of the week is split; it goes to retail sales data, which gives some hope of a continued economic recovery through consumer spending (in the face of weaker data everywhere else)…. and to Katie Schultz and ‘Singapore Dave’, for their energy limerick responses to Wednesday’s post. Katie, a giftcard is winging its way to you; ‘Singapore Dave’, if you find a burrito in Singapore, send me your bill.

The Burnt Burrito Award of the week goes to prompt natural gas prices. Not a lot has changed since last week; a hurricane threat to offshore production has come and gone, temperatures have been above the norm across much of the US (in NY, 11-year highs – el  scorcho!), yet a storage number erring to the bearish side, and prices have sold off with vehemence.

Have a terrific weekend!